SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As Donald Trump fights to shut the door on refugees entering the United States, Democratic lawmakers from California are pushing new laws to open doors for the refugees already here.
“We’re not taking part in this fear mongering,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego).
Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian is an immigrant from Iran and one of three lawmakers proposing the California Welcomes Refugee Package.
“So these bills are made to make it easier for individuals coming here find better opportunities,” said Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks).
Opportunities like education, first providing refugees with in-state tuition at public colleges and exempting them from paying penalties, while giving priority enrollment to refugees with special immigrant visas who have worked directly with the U.S. Army.
Hamidullah Hamidy served as a translator in Afghanistan, before moving to Sacramento on the special visa.
“I would like to serve this country because this country helps me,” said Hamidullah Hamidy.
Under the proposed laws, Hamidy would also be able to apply his foreign experience toward a professional license such as a business license.
“I don’t think it’s insurmountable costs,” Kevin McCarty (D) Sacramento.
There’s no official estimate of how much the package will cost, but lawmakers are set on designating $5 million in grant money to school districts with high child refugee populations.
“These families, like our ancestors before us fled violence and persecution in search of a safe place to call home,” said Paula Villescaz of the San Juan School District.
From Sacramento to San Diego, it’s a new push to make the state a more welcoming place for refugees. The package would also declare June 20 as World Refugee Day in the state.
CBS13 reached out to several Republican lawmakers, but they declined to comment.