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California leaders request funds to support Afghan refugees in state

Gov. Gavin Newsom and two state legislators Friday requested $16.7 million in general funds to provide cash assistance and other services to Afghan refugees settling in California.

The funding request by Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is expected to be considered during the legislative session next week.

Newsom said in a statement:

“I am proud that California has been and always will be a place of refuge for those seeking safety or a better life – especially for those who served our country, like many of the Afghan refugees coming to America, and to California.” 

The governor said:

“Today’s announcements and request for funding signal that California stands ready to assist those in need. … As the nation’s most diverse state, we don’t simply tolerate diversity, we celebrate it.”

The state is mounting a statewide coordination effort, as well as access to health care, public benefits and additional resources for the refugees.

Some Afghan arrivals will not be special immigration visa holders, but rather will be paroled into the U.S. for humanitarian reasons. Because of their immigration status, these refugees aren’t eligible for some refugee benefits and services as well as many federal public assistance programs, according to Newsom’s office.

However, humanitarian parolees are potentially eligible for state-funded CalWORKs, Medi-Cal and California’s Food Assistance Program, if they meet program eligibility requirements, the governor’s office said.

As humanitarian parolees, only Afghan arrivals with children could be eligible for CalWORKs, and there is an expected gap in assistance available for Afghans under this status who don’t have children.

The proposed temporary expansion of the state’s Trafficking and Crime Victim Assistance Program will ensure humanitarian parolees without children, who are ineligible for CalWORKs, are able to access important public benefits if they are otherwise eligible, according to the governor’s office.

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