Refugee and Immigrant Newcomer Families
All children in California, regardless of immigration status, have a constitutional right to high-quality education.
“And as educators, we also have a moral obligation to ensure a bright future for every child in our care,” says San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold.
California is home to the largest population of immigrants in the country and San Diego County teachers, paraeducators, counselors, and administrators may have students who are newly arrived immigrants (also known as newcomers) in their classrooms and schools.
Some of our students who are newcomers may be refugees to America for political and economic reasons. Under U.S. law, a “refugee” is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.
Students who are refugee and newcomer immigrants frequently experience incredible hardships prior to their arrival in U.S. schools. Such difficult ordeals can affect their social and emotional well-being and readiness to learn while at school. Professional learning related to trauma-informed practices can help provide the tools for educators to create a culture of support and respect. Establishing environments that build a network of resiliency around students will also greatly aid immigrant newcomer and refugee students to better engage and build relationships necessary for positive human development and scholarly success at school.
Our students who are refugees often experience challenges and trauma with the sudden upheaval or overwhelming changes of settling into a new location with a new cultural context. It can be helpful if educators have resources related to basic human needs, such as hunger, clothing and shelter readily available.
Resettlement/ Refugee Service Organizations
There are several organizations that can help families access food, transportation, legal documents, and public assistance.
- Alliance for African Assistance
- Refugee Services - Catholic Charities
- International Rescue Committee
- Jewish Family Services
- San Diego Rapid Response
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement
Embassies and Consulate Offices
Embassies and consulates can provide assistance to their national citizens abroad, but the level of help may differ by country. Visit your embassy website for access to specific services.
- Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Los Angeles, serves San Diego)
- Consulate General of the Republic of Haiti (Chicago, serves all of California)
- The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Somalia (Washington D.C., serving all USA)
- Consulate General of the Republic of Iraq in Los Angeles (serves San Diego County)
- Consulado General de México en San Diego
English As A Second Language (ESL) Classes for Adults
Several organizations provide free classes for adults interested in learning English. They are offered for different levels of expertise (beginner to advanced) and are available in the morning, afternoon, and night.
Employment Services and Job Preparation Development
Career centers and job preparation programs provide free help and support with applying for jobs and gaining skills and training regardless of income or background.
Health and Wellness
Access to medical benefits and health assessments to help identify chronic conditions or a child's immunization status are available.