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tv   U.S. Conference of Mayors Discuss Immigration Issues  CSPAN  March 8, 2022 5:26am-6:36am EST

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our podcasts on our c-span now mobile app. announcer: the u.s. conference of mayors hosted a discussion on immigration issues, including the u.s. relationship with mexico, and the resettlement of afghan refugees, particularly children.
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>> this being livestreamed on c-span. thank you to everyone. this is a place where we have folks who are latino, interested, and for all of us who focus on key issues across this country, we have leaders and speakers here. i am the mayor of los angeles
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and founder of the latino alliance. i'm proud to be here with those who head up our task force. if i can start with a point of personal privilege, but when i started attending these meetings eight years ago, there were latino mayors and voices in city halls across the country, but we were not a formalized part of this conference. we have admiration for those who organize themselves. there was no meeting where we address the issues that affect the community far beyond immigration on the mind of every parent of latino descent in this country, every child, recent immigrant, fourth or fifth generation latino here. so i have pride that we have been able to stand up the latino
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alliance, and we have had such partners. we have had a long stretch together. he is from providence, rhode island. he will continue to do powerful things, and i value his personal friendship. another person is an artist, i think registered as a republican, but we don't know actually, because he's a leader on housing, immigration. also, i don't know if he is here yet, but the mayor of san diego is just setting out on his journey. in a person who has been a real example. a lot of my family comes from arizona. i can't wait for her to take up the mantle and to lead this alliance in the future. i think we have been able to strengthen american values, to
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defend the rights of immigrants on the border, the same border, el paso, where my grandfather was carried by his mother over the border, to the worsened t darkened moments with children in cages. in my city we have immigrants. we have great mayors here as well. we work for immigrants. we work for everybody in our cities. i know we will continue that work. i wish everybody all strength and success from the newest mayor to the longest-serving one as well, especially with our federal and international partners we will hear from today, whether it is asylum-seekers, refugees, unaccompanied minors, innovation and action is critical. i think we are all frustrated this country has moved backward
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for a solid decade when it comes to immigrant rights, but we will never stop fighting for rights in our community. let me introduce these special guests here today. i am glad chris magnus is with us. please thank him for being with us here today. the mexican ambassador to the united states, my dear friend, who has visited with me in los angeles, only the second-biggest mexican city in the world. thank you you, ambassador. thank you. and chief of staff of the office of refugee resettlement is here, as well as the assistant secretary for partnership and engagement at the department of homeland security. thank you for being with us. italian? even better. greek. all right.
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it's not all greek to me. the federal government's partnership in addressing so many of these concerns, especially the arrivals of unaccompanied children, and thank you to mayors who have opened their convention centers, fairgrounds, local hotels to say we are a welcoming and humane country, or to afghan, g who have settled in so many of our cities as well. we know only investment and resources will help us successfully integrate the next generation of americans, many of whom come here bearing many of the same traumas our ancestors did. finally, an amazing angel, she and her staff, please give a round of applause and thank her for the critical work she does on behalf of all of you. [applause] so, let me toss it over to mayor giles. mayor giles: thank you.
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we are struggling with trying to figure out what a convention with people like without you. you are so gracious, and so bipartisan, and i think you made us all feel like angelenos every time we come. i am sure the entire country of india if not the continent of asia will soon have a similar affection for you and so we are very excited and excited for our country. i have been looking forward to this meeting for months, and it has progressed, it has become clear to me that mayors are special instead fitting 20 pounds of flour into a 10 pounds sack. if you look at the agenda and the issues on the top of the agenda for each community, they are reflected in this meeting. we will talk about refugee resettlement.
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who has not been pondering that issue mightily over the past few weeks and months, and fielding question after question as to how this will impact our local situations? customs and border control, as a border state mayor, this is what i will be talking about when i go back home. the information we will be receiving this meeting today. anything we can do to strengthen our relationship with who i believe is our country's greatest partner, mexico, is an amazing opportunity, so the sooner i stop talking, the sooner we will hear from these great speakers, but again, i wanted to express my appreciation to all of you for the collaborative attitudes you bring this, and i look forward to per dissipating with you. now my good friend. >> thank you. i have been the chair of this committee for maybe seven years.
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want to thank everybody for being in this room for so many of the sessions -- i want to thank everybody for being this room for so many of the sessions of being at this table. we held that the last five years, which have been especially challenging, and especially when we think about the challenges that so many face just coming to the united states. some of them endure almost unspeakable horrors, and then they land in our communities and realize the streets are not paved in gold, and even more hardship awaits them. in the face of all of those challenges, mayors throughout the country, yourselves around the table, you have stepped up and taken tangible, substantive steps to make sure that immigrant community in your home cities is lifted up, and at the same time, taking the intangible and symbolic steps
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to make sure immigrants feel welcome in a supportive, and at home in a foreign land. so not only as chair of this committee, but somebody born and raised in an immigrant household in the u.s., i want to thank you for that and forward to today's conversation. >> thank you. there he is. perfect. my pleasure. there is a joke around my office that you are a little bit of everything. i am half mexican, half jewish, have something else. whenever i meet somebody from another country, i'm like i had a great, great grandmother from there. mayors ancestry is latino, asian, native, white, and he is a tremendous human being first and foremost, who represents the largest border community we have in the u.s. it is a super city cold san diego/tijuana, and he has done an amazing job.
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yet stepping up to help lead -- he is stepping up to help lead. before that, he served on the city council in san diego. i am happy to have him here. the microphone is yours. >> thank you, mayor, and thank you for the opportunity. like my friend, mayors have to put 20 pounds in a 10 pound bag, or 40 hours, so forgive my tardiness. my mother is dying somewhere. i am tardy. thank you. i shared john's sadness you departed, but it is important to have you in that important post. we will miss you here. yes, i am san diego's first native american, filipino, dutch mayor. the way that happens is we welcome people through the military service, and often when
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they discharge, they stay, because why wouldn't you, san diego, right? you are a tourism community, military community, and border city. i deeply appreciate our relationship with our partners. in the year that i have been mayor, we have worked on a lot of pandemic, homelessness, and financial issues. the overlay is significant. i would point to the impacts we have felt through the non-essential travel restrictions that until recently were in place. the lifting of those, joining the ranks of other cities, talking about reopening our economy post the surge in 2021, we got that status a few weeks ago with the lifting of those restrictions and allowing the free flow of goods and people cross the border, and definitely appreciate our partners for making a possible. now that brings up other issues,
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because there is one on the other side, wait times. i am sure the commission will talk about that in a moment. we have to work on that collectively. the human nature of this issue, often mayors talk about the border in the context of the economy. this is not gdp. this number, i want to talk about it in the context of people, sandy aikins who live on one side and work on the other whose children may go to school and one sidekick, but may reside in another, there is a lot of cross travel, which is why those restrictions were detrimental to our community and continue to be challenges. it was mentioned the opening of our communities, the convention center to minors, i want you to know it was predicted we would have tremendous amounts of pushback for hosting those children in need in our
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community, with the exception of three protesters for 45 minutes on day one. all we saw was love and support, and that is why i'm proud to be the leader of a major border city. we understand this is about people, folks coming to our country, service members, immigrants, we welcome people in san diego and live out our values and we did at our convention center and we would do a going word by advocating for sensible immigration policy at the federal level, so i appreciate those in adductor comments and i want to hear from others here. i appreciate the chance to be at this table. >> thanks. we appreciate your leadership and look forward to you beating within his conference for many years to come. >> let me talk about mayor romero. i am sure she will be embarrassed. by the way, this person has been a cofounder for the alliance. i could not do it without him. when we were there to witness the signing of the infrastructure back, it was so inspiring, 38 or so of our
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african-american brothers and sisters who are mayors. there were three of us they are who were latino. despite being the biggest, fastest growing population and having a majority in schoolchildren, new jobs, and businesses in this country added coming from the latino community , we still have strides to make. when the mayor was elected, i can think of several people that nobody better to lead people latino alliance moving forward then mayor romero. i'm sure you will be able to continue this momentum and you will make me proud as the next leader, but i know you are here to introduce a dear friend who has a connection to your city, who is now leading at the highest levels and administration and not actively waging war against immigrants, but working solve problems and to accept opportunities that come with immigrants, so with that, please welcome our new mayor from tucson. mayor romero. mayor romero: thank you.
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i did not know i was going to be lobbied to be chair. though i will promise you to think about it. it is an honor to be here on an issue that is and has been so important to the life of myself and my family as the proud daughter of immigrants. and i am blessed to have been part of the sonoran desert, it covers both, including arizona, and my family has been living in the desert for the past seven generations, including my children. that is on the sonoran side. i was the first in my family to be born in arizona.
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but, i am here to introduce my friend and the former chief of police for the city of tucson, which i had the honor to serve together. first, as councilmember for tucson, then most recently here. >> comes to the role of commissioner of the united states customs and order protection with a wealth of experience. he is quick thinking, compassionate, and an innovator in law enforcement. he began his career as a dispatcher and paramedic in lansing, michigan. he then served as the police chief of fargo, north dakota and in richmond, california, where he developed a reputation nationwide for his community-based approach to policing. having seen his accomplishments
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and success, the city of tucson was fortunate to poach him from california and bring him to tucson, which by the way, while he was our chief of police, he innovated and transformed our police department to the wonderful leading agency it is today in tucson. he launched a nationally recognized diversion program to help unsheltered and mentally ill individuals during our work together as mayor in chief of police. we both launched a community safety health and wellness program to make sure that we are paying attention to the calls that are coming in, and being able to divert some of the calls from our police department.
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as the police chief of a city on the border, we worked together on policies to protect undocumented victims and witnesses of crime, and president biden recognized his strengths and the role he played in our community and nominated him to become the u.s. custom border protection commissioner. in 2021, he became the fifth senate confirmed commissioner of customs and border protection. it is america's gain. i am very happy and honored to introduce to you commissioner chris magnus. thank you. [laughter] mr. magnus: wow, mayor,
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thank you so much. boy, i had the privilege, i have had the privilege of working for some terrific mayors in my career, but i have to say i like this one in particular. i really was fortunate to work with this mayor for the six years i was in tucson, and i have to tell you, i learned not only a lot about immigration issues, because there is nobody who knows more than you about those issues, but i also learned a lot about strategies for advancing social justice, and together the mayor showed there can really be an effective partnership between the police and city government overall, not to mention of course community, when it comes to advancing social justice, so i think we
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did a lot of good work together and i really appreciate your leadership. it is such an honor to be up here talking with the other very special guests today. thank you for this opportunity and i look forward to more time with all of you. so, i am very happy to be in washington, d.c. i feel a little bit like a visit still myself, since i just moved here from tucson. my physical move was only a week ago, you can only imagine what our house looks like right now and what is going on, and we brought two dogs along and they don't seem to quite share the enthusiasm i have for washington, d.c. in the winter. let -- we let them out and i can almost hear their message back, when do we get to arizona? but that is all good.
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so in my new role as commissioner, it still feels strange saying that, i am going to be working with people from all sorts of governmental agencies, and not just other governmental agencies, but various ngos, and of course travel and trade community. we will be very excited learning more about those areas. and so, i get to work, i think one of the best things about this job is i get to work with so many interesting people and groups, but i need to convey today here at that, and going to make it one of my highest priorities announcer: to really work and build relationships with mayors in this country. your voice is without question are some of the most important. when it comes to providing the ideas and feedback we actually need to have.
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so, here is one of my first plans, which, as i travel around the country, and i'm going to be doing a fair amount of that, i am going to be looking for opportunities to meet with mayors wherever i can. in fact, one of the things i want to do early on here, really know later than the next month or so, is convening with a small group of mayors where we can sit down and share ideas and speak frankly about current issues out there. i think sometimes those of the most valuable, just to hear what is on people's minds. look, i know it is easy to say we are seeking a meaningful partnership, but i am really committed to doing this so that actions speak louder than words. um, i have come to learn even more than i thought when i was
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in the process for this position. c is ap diverse andb far-reaching range of responsibilities. everybody knows these days are border security and immigration, but not everyone is aware of the management that cpb is involved in with ports of entry, trade agreements like usmca, ensuring the safe and efficient flow of goods, particular important right now when were talking about supply chain, and cpb also plays a critical role in reducing the flow of drugs into this country, as well as significant counterterrorism initiatives. now, when i was working in tucson as the police chief, it often seem like discussions of policy in washington where abstract and
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removed from day-to-day realities, but i have come to appreciate more and more at that these policies have a significant impact on your city, really in many ways. for those of you from cities along the border, you have likely noticed that ports of entry have required certain travelers to be vaccinated, and we understand this has caused a significant up pick in border crossings -- uptick in border crossings. good news, by and large, current vaccination requirements have not led to increased border wait times. in the very near future, they will require all inbound foreign national travelers crossing u.s. land or other ports of entry, whether for essential non-essential travel, be fully vaccinated for covid-19 and provide proof of that
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vaccination. also need you to know that we are regularly evaluated -- we also need you to know that we are regularly evaluating traffic flows and will adjust as needed. as traffic increases through ports of entry, we have been seizing much greater amounts of illegal drugs. just in the last three fiscal years, we have seized increasing amounts of sentinel -- fentanyl and methamphetamines. we have seized over 11,000 pounds of sentinel -- fentanyl in 2021, which is an increase of what we saw in 2021 and 2020 respectively. i am sure all your cities have been impacted by the increased flow of these dangerous drugs,
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particularly opioids, and as a former police chief, i saw the terrible toll b substances take on lives, an area where the mayor and i are very familiar. but i want to assure you that illegal drug interdiction, including drugs shipped through the mail, which we are seeing more and more of, will continue to be a high priority for cbp. this is something i care deeply about. our nation is currently confronting many challenges that involve border security and immigration. here is the thing. cbp is caught in the middle of what i think nobody can deny is a frequently changing legal landscape that requires our personnel to take on additional responsibilities, learn new skills, interact with larger numbers of people, and frankly, to increasingly adjust adjuster complex expectations.
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in 2021 fiscal year, the border patrol had over 1.7 million encounters with people trying to cross the border illegally, which of that, 1.3 million were unique encounters. cbp also continues to assist the center for disease control. those who cannot be expelled under title 42 and who don't have a legal basis to remain in the u.s. are placed in removal proceedings. at cbp, we are very realistic about the impact of title 42 going away at some point as covid-19 subsides. this means we are working really for a whole of government approach to achieve a safe and orderly process along the southwest border. now remember, before title 42,
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everyone was process under title eight, and that combines the general immigration authority for the border control to really conduct their standard mission. our communication with those of you in cities along the border will be key to our success in addressing this challenge. how we work together to avoid circumstances like the surge that took place until rio last year, something we are taking very seriously, so of course, our planning processes have to involve more than just those of you in local government and various ngo partners. we are working every day with our partners throughout dhs, including fema, ice, and other federal agencies, including hhs, the department of defense, the state department, even the bureau of prisons.
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will our response to the changes in policy or law be without difficulty or missteps? i will acknowledge right now some missteps will be impossible to avoid. we are going to do the best we can to continue to improve our level of preparedness and collaboration. then there is the migrant protection protocols, or mpp. for now, the courts have mandated this program be reinstated. as the leader of a law enforcement agency, it is my it obligation to make sure that cbp complies with the rulings of the courts. cbp is working closely with other agencies and uscis, the customs and immigration service, to proceed with mpp enrollments,
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but again, our commitment is to ensure the right to counsel, to be offered covid vaccinations, and to provide migrants with the best possible humanity, humanitarian care. these really are our commitments in which we intend to live up to as best we can. of course i need to emphasize that the biden administration is working to eventually terminate mpp, and based on some concerns expressed clearly that the program fails to provide a fair process and adequate humanitarian protections. so any one of these commitments has its own degree of complexity , requires partnership, and is difficult when resources are limited, yet from what i have seen and what i believe, cbp consistently steps up to meet
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expectations. none of this is easy. cbp must consistently and constantly balance how we follow the law. we are a law enforcement agency. we must develop and insure processes that are efficient and responsive to concerns and questions from members of congress, we certainly got a sense of that in the confirmation process, from the media, advocacy groups, and from the larger public. but cbp personnel are used to this kind of balancing act. i have confidence that we are going to be able to do what is expected of us. now the unfortunate and frankly sometimes frustrating part of all of this is that the public does not always cb efforts that cbp workforce makes to confront these and other challenges every day, challenges like
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facilitating the efficient movement of goods, interdicting loads of illegal drugs such as fentanyl, courageously rescuing migrants dropped off by human trafficking in areas where survival rates are low, and caring for noncitizens who cross our border with young children. these are things that men and women of cbp do on a daily basis, and early on, i had a chance to go up in one of our blackhawk helicopters. i never thought i would say that, life, that i would be flying in a black hawk helicopter, but i went from tucson to yuma, and we went over some mountain ridges that were incredible in and of themselves, but when you think about the fact that there are human beings trying to cross these mountains under just incredibly harsh conditions, whether it is winter or summer, and i learned from talking to the members of our air and marine division and from
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others just how many rescues they conduct, frankly a tremendous peril to their own lives, and when you see that terrain and what is involved in these rescues, you really get a whole new appreciation for a lot of the personnel who are doing that. but look, by highlighting all this great work i am in no way ignoring or marginalizing negative incidents involving a small number of cbp personnel that have caused some members of the public to have diminished confidence in our agency. in fact, it is because of these incidents and commitment to improvement that we are addressing various internal oversight processes, updating policies, and looking further into some aspects of our training. i think you saw some of that in tucson. look, i believe this is what
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ongoing learning and professionalism is all about. during the confirmation process, i talked a lot about disrupting the status quo, implementing best practices, and accountability. to fulfill these commitments, i will be exploring external resources that can help us do better, but also building on the pride and commitment to excellent that the hard-working men and women of cbp already have. so, thank you so much again for the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon. i look forward to building relationships with all of you, as well as frequent opportunities for productive dialogue, and no matter where you are from, i hope you enjoy your time. thank you, again. [applause] >> mission or will we appreciate -- commissioner, we appreciate you sharing that vision and those words with those. we will have you stick around
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for some q&a collectively, but i would turn it over to our next speaker. we would do q&a for the last 10 minutes or so for comments and questions. mexico is for many of us our most important partner and our nearest neighbor. many of us like myself trace our roots to mexico. and for all americans, mexico is our neighbor, friend, and partner. we are honored to have today the mexican ambassador to the u.s., my friend, who has made it his mission to deepen those ties and find that common north american language over both sides of the border. in los angeles, as i mentioned, the largest concentration of mexicans outside of mexico and the second largest mexican city in the world, we work closely with the ambassador in our local consulate to reinforce their strong ties and are grateful you are with us today, a great man, great representative of this country please welcome our
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ambassador from mexico to the united states. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you, my friend, mayor garcetti, and congratulations on the announcement of los angeles hosting the ninth summit of the americas. we agree with president biden, he said we need to strengthen our democracies to close the gap between what we promise and what we deliver, and i am fortunate to share the floor with dedicated mayors and public servants who have proven time and time again their commitment towards building government closer to the people. the mayors know the people's needs very well. the recent reopening of the land border between our i have seen how you have fought for that, incredible work, and
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we really think and appreciate the effort, because covid-19 has impacted not only health and economy but also the mental health of a large sector of the population. however, as a spanish philosopher said a catastrophe is only truly catastrophic if something does not emerge from it to rescue it. for the bilateral relationship between u.s. and mexico this crisis revealed as never before the depth of our ties and the need to strengthen the north american region. what has emerged from this catastrophe is our links, relationship, our friendship. it is a hidden truth that we
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really need each other. putting it into numbers the north american region encompasses 500 million people and trades $1.3 trillion. besides our free-trade and those astonishing numbers migration is one of the greatest issues that lies at u.s. and mexico shared priorities. at a time when vibrance are on the rise around the world and immigration continues to reshape our societies we need to have consistent dialogue. common objectives have become regional. i had conversation about it, and i think that this is a truth
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that we have to approach migration with our regional approach. president biden and president lopez have been committed to addressing the real fibers of migration. we are making a collective effort to adopt necessary public policies to have an orderly, safe, and regular migration. central america faces insufficient and exclusionary economic growth, low levels of suspending, violence, the effects of climate change and lots of promise. improving the quality of life of people and places of their origin. let me tell you about a new migratory phenomenon. mexico has become a new country for asylum-seekers. we are not together with the usa
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as a country for refugees. at the end of 2021 the mexican government registered a historical number of more than 131,000 persons who requested refugee status in mexico. this is accumulative to three quarters of the applications received from 2013 to 2020. also the challenge of mexico is that 35% of immigrants trying to reach the u.s. decide to stay in our country for good. it is a game changer. before mexico was a transit country. not anymore. that is why the mexican government has invested significant resources working on solutions, particularly in two programs. these initiatives promote
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development in the south region of mexico, creating 900,000 jobs and 63,000 jobs in central america, expending income, bargaining -- targeting communities that have the biggest exposure of young populations. it is a success story that has contributed to reinforcing the growth of mexican and central american people to their own communities of origin. what is needed is to be expanded. we need to understand immigration, that immigrants are not just construction workers anymore. there is almost one million mexicans working in the u.s. with hundreds of studies or postgraduate credits. a solution to manage migration requires a regional approach.
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the questions that mexico and the u.s. need to answer is what is the best way to move forward together. the north american trilateral summit and renewed high-level dialogue establish concrete actions that would allow us to consolidate a coordinated regional response to migration. i had a conversation. i want to underscore that when we talk about migration we need to talk about the border. for these reasons we work together through several mechanisms, not only a 21st century order management initiative. these mechanisms regularly monitor and ensure the limitation of specific actions to improve our infrastructure, environmental protection, and to facilitate the movement of goods and people in a safe, efficient,
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and lawful manner. there is a layer at the top of all of our mechanisms. a north american development plan to foresee what we want to build from today to the year 2050, a view of the forest, not only of the trees. analyze that platform, and we need urgency as geopolitics [indiscernible] dialogue is a living process. we already to continue and deepen this dialogue with you to exchange ideas and find common solutions to build a common future. thank you. [applause]
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it is my privilege to introduce someone who has been diligently serving the refugee community in many years in both government and faith-based programs. she also had a significant time in tucson as well. i always thought mesa was the
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center of the universe. apparently i am a little off. please join me in welcoming the chief of staff of the office of refugee resettlement with the office of health and human services. >> it is a pleasure to join you today, and i went to thank the mayor was in commissioner and ambassador and everyone on behalf of the office of resettlement go back home and think your communities. the welcome that is been extended specifically to afghan evacuees has been incredible. we feel it. we know there are incredible stories of communities all over the country that have extended their arms in welcome and we are immensely appreciative. i'm going to focus both on operation allies, our world there and alan our mission to serving unaccompanied children. i wanted to provide a little bit of background for those of you
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who may not know. at the office of resettlement was started in 1980 under the refugee act of 1980, which eventually ended the office under the administration for children and families within the department of health and human services. over the last 40 years or so we have expanded our mission, congress has expanded our mission to include victims of tracking king, victims of torture and unaccompanied children. most recently as of september 30 we are able to provide services to afghan evacuees as part of operation allies welcome and we are humbled and welcome by the call. the services that we provide include cash and medical assistance, cash management, english-language services, job readiness services and to be administered by providing funding through a public-private partnership with nonprofit
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providers and also with states. it really is the public-private partnership working with community-based organizations to make resettlement successful and help people rebuild their lives. as you are likely aware we have a mandate under the trafficking victims reauthorization act to provide care and custody of unaccompanied children until they are released to a sponsor, usually a close relative or parent. first i will talk about operation allies welcome. following the fall of couple -- kabul president biden director little the department to foment security to lead efforts cuesta government to support afghan evacuees through operation allies rescue and operation allies welcome. staff immediately deployed first to fort lee and allstate havens, military bases that are hosting afghans as well as we deployed staff to the airports to make
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sure that when individuals came with a child that was not their biological child, many children were fleeing with a loved one, caregiver, aunt, uncle that we were able to keep that family unit together whenever possible so that the trauma of separation would not follow the trauma that they have already endured. orr not only to the unaccompanied afghan minors mission but also temporary medical coverage was provided for emergency medical use through the state department bureau of refugees and population migration. we also provided mental health services to afghan evacuees while they were at a safe haven. at this point nearly all of the afghan evacuees have a bend resettled or are in the process of being resettled run of the
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nine agencies in the united states or in many cases through the state administered partnerships that we have in our program in colorado, minnesota, missouri, washington, and of the states. there are countless communities that have open arms. i went to talk about unaccompanied afghan minors. currently there are 25 unaccompanied afghan minors in our care. none of them have a sponsor in the united states but all of them have a parent or primary caregiver back in afghanistan. we are striving to provide these children collectively and linguistically coveted care within our network to service providers across the united states, including two foster care programs. we are incredibly grateful for our more than 212 providers across the country working to provide that care as well as the countless families that have stepped forward and are working on our website to sign up as
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foster families and licensed through the states in which they live. i would legal responsibility to care for legal unaccompanied children is no matter what their nationality is. people are most frequently accustomed to less serving children from guatemala and honduras and el salvador and that does represent more than 90% of the children in our care but we have served children from all over the world. children in our care, 90% of the time they are able to be united with a close family member or parent or legal guardian, and while they are with us their safety is our number one priority. we do not make immigration determinations, and it is not for us to determine what will happen with the go before an immigration judge, but while they are with us we try to provide the best quality of care. this year has been a challenging one. as folks know in fiscal year 2020 there were about 15,000
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children referred to orr. in 2021 there are a bit more than 120,000 children referred to us for our care. we have provided beautification services for more than 110,000 of those children. it is down from the high level of 25,000 children over the spring and summer. we visited this -- did this by reducing the length of care of children in our festivities. congregate care is no place for children. we reduce the average length of care from upwards to 90 days when we came into office to now close to 25 days. that is a big point of pride. we did have to do things out of the box this year. we activated the emergency intake sites, 14 of them across the country in addition to the influx care festivities, but now
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we are down to only two of the sites when the 14. the emergency intake sites are not our standard operating procedure. we are committed to providing care to unaccompanied children through our network of license care providers across the country, so as we are able to demobilize even those two remaining emergency intake sites we are able to do that. today there are fewer than 200 children across those two emergency intake sites. this year we are hoping to do some of the things that we started coming into office wanted to do including access to legal representation and increasing support like most released services to the children who are released from our care. that is my briefing for now. abby to answer questions or grateful to be with you. [applause] >> i have worked with a moderate to semi time but these are
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incredible moderators. why don't we just start asking questions because we have about 10 minutes to ask my students. i would just ask you if you raise rent and introduce yourself. go ahead and ask questions. >> thank you. commissioner, welcome, and you could do here that you have that familiarity with the border in tucson next of our good friend. mayor garcetti, we are going to miss you. you are a good friend to the conference. i do not think the border crossing parts are under your authority. i know the influx you have will be significant, but this worked out great for my friend, we are five minutes from the mexican border. it has really helped.
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and there was an a five miles in new mexico. it has helped with the trade between our communities. i just wanted to congratulate you, you have great people in the el paso sector. they do a great job there. >> thank you, i appreciate that very much. >> good afternoon, i am dr. monica sanchez, a mirror -- mayor in los angeles county. i am a daughter of a farmworker. how can specifically small cities like ourselves help the immigrants that come in. as we know, farmworkers do not just stay in border cities. we have students and children. how can the mayors assist in
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these efforts? >> absolutely, there have been phenomenal partnerships including in los angeles county and across california in particular in terms of utilizing some of the systems in place for immigrant children and making sure that unaccompanied children can be a part of that. making sure that compliance with some things like making sure it school districts know all children regardless of immigration status and have access to school is something that has been critical. making sure there is communication and education for everyone working with children, because a lot of times people do not know what to do or they might be asking for going papers when it is not necessary, some of the things, so looking at things from the eyes of an unaccompanied child were eyes of a sponsor who might not have guard to that has been provided care and custody of that child while they are awaiting their immigration hearing is critical,
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and making sure that their communication between schools and social service providers and the immigration court system is really important. we have also had really great dialogue with local officials to hone in more specifically about what their equities are and what they are looking to do. >> one thing that the foster care system is one of the best ways, my wife and i have fostered for many years and often there is no communication between the federal level, state-level, and county level. you probably have people that have unaccompanied minors. increase with parents, work with the county in our case, but york county's and state authorities to find out where the sums are and offering an informal network of support whether it is culturally competent teachers, churches and religious
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communities, at is probably the best way. >> [indiscernible] having a conversation could help with them to promote some programs that it help them in the environment. >> so not specific to children but immigrants in general, usually there are significant legal needs and legal costs mount up quickly. somehow providing or offsetting some of those costs. a lot of cities that have used american rescue plan dollars to provide legal representation for immigrants, that is something that is helpful. something that we are exploring in providence right now is there are a lot of families that are legal residents that qualify for citizenship that just cannot
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afford to pay the application. a one-time payment to help them with a process, at that up some -- that helps them. asking for broader community for support not only with the afghan communities we have seen in providence but in general. it is amazing of generous the community is. if the mayor asked them to do something for committee was show up. -- the community will show up. >> one of the things that we realize when we look at the situation, fremont, california is home to one of the largest diasporas in the united states. we are anticipating more arrivals. some of the sentiment regarded working with state-based groups
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and outreach, we started a help fund and today we have raised $420,000 in terms of donations from the community in terms of others that have stepped up. we are working with committee based organizations and having people apply for these funding applications. some of the things that i keep hearing about. a comment regarding the application fee, that has been a real factor and i have shared that in the past with the secretary. that amount for any family if you have two jews mother are relative or how you choose which ones to pick, and in other areas much like when somebody originally arrived in fremont, many immigrants would like to be with her own family members. what we are finding is that when you talk about reaching out 50%
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of the population at one or two members of the family already an immigrant, so even though they may not be afghan in heritage because they have had the experience whether vietnam or chinese or india they feel compelled to help it assist so we have been trying to work with school districts, and i do not know if there are any other programs were doing, things like helping people get their drivers license, giving up packages to a lot of people to resettle and help with their housing goods. we are hoping to continue that, but if there are any other efforts you can think of. showing our support as a community and wanting to encourage and welcome others it's a bit away but we welcome the continued partnership because we realized it is not something that is just going to be one thing. for the longer-term effect
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sometimes the mental health aspect of it, many years ago i had the pleasure of welcoming the afghan robotics girls team and i am glad they were able to land safely and be secure, but that is the everything i hear about is concerned for the long-term trauma for some of them as they settle. anything in terms of resources you could do we would be thrilled to have assistance. >> thank you. this is incredibly helpful and i appreciate the questions. i agree in terms of application for parole has been a big impediment and we will make sure that his address. one of the programs we administer is the ethic committee based organization to grant, those are grants that are competitive grants that local community-based organizations can apply directly for this grant rather than having to be under one of the national resettlement agencies are getting grants from the state. you provide a lot of money to
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states, and then the state refugee coordinator is the office that decides where those go. refugees and afghan evacuees as well are eligible for even medicaid or if they are not eligible based upon state requirements they are eligible for refugee assistance, which is kind of our localized program if you will. that can be helpful in providing the support needed to find mental health providers. the provision of mental health is a critical went united states that is not specific to the refugee community or afghan community. so much is reliant on the availability of mental health services locally, but we are working closely with some providers like the u.s. committee for refugees and immigrants and others to deploy mental health resources to critical areas that need essentially an influx of that expertise to provide care to afghans in particular given the trauma that they have endured.
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it is something that we are continuing to work through, and how we can to make sure that we are not just reliant on some of those places where they are not mental health provisions. >> thank you. >> will -- real quick, if there is a response or question and we will wrap it up. >> represented the city of west sacramento, i appreciate your presence here in the information that you provided. i share the concerns of the mayor from fremont who explains the cost of making sure folks get the resources that they need to, housing is very expensive. we have an afghan refugee population coming into the sacramento region and our major region and housing is one of the areas. without an idea -- id they cannot access the benefits we can provide to them. at the governors go to be looking at providing medicare
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for all immigrants. what would be helpful is matching funds, deliver the services that would alleviate the resources and the long term to be able to provide the resources for those that are needed. mental health services is limited, and that is the result of the shortage of social workers. whatever we can do to incentivize so crucial -- social workers loan forgiveness, that would be a huge asset. as far as the increase this -- in illegal drugs that is something i've concerned about and whatever i can do to provide support to reduce that is incredibly important for us to be able to reduce the amount of deaths among children. i think very much. >> and responses anybody? we have been so blessed by this panel, so blessed for all of you to come here. thank you all, next year i will
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see you there. >> we have got to said mayor garcetti off right. this is his last meeting here with a conference of mayors as part of this group, mayor, it has an honor entry pleasure working with you. i have been so personally impressed by the weight you have been willing and able to take on the biggest and toughest challenges, and you are always insightful, yet humble, you are genuine. you really care and you have been an inspiration to so many of us. on behalf of all of us we want to wish you the best in india and beyond. [applause]
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