Throughout Long Beach, immigrants and refugees are an integral part of our economy and social fabric, making up more than a quarter of our population, including the largest Cambodian community outside of Southeast Asia. Immigrants and refugees are family members, friends, loved ones, and colleagues. Half of all essential workers in Long Beach are immigrants– people who put their lives on the line every day to keep our economy afloat, performing critical work such as caring for our city’s sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes, working in grocery stores, growing our food and ensuring Long Beach residents have access to crucial services. In addition to the labor they provide, immigrants in Long Beach are more likely to be entrepreneurs and contribute $1.2 billion in federal, state, and local taxes each year.
Despite the extraordinary contributions of our immigrant communities and forming a large part of our city, immigrants face unique barriers in accessing basic services like housing, health care, quality jobs, economic mobility, higher education, and pathways to citizenship. As Mayor, I will work toward creating an inclusive Long Beach where immigrant families feel safe, supported, and have a sense of belonging in our great city.
HOW WE WILL LEAD
Ensuring immigrant communities have equal access to economic and social opportunities
When it comes to housing, healthcare, workforce development, education, entrepreneurship, and social safety nets such as universal basic income and unemployment insurance, our immigrant communities deserve access to the same support as their neighbors. We can protect and bolster access to opportunities and a safety net for immigrants by:
- Ensuring any immigrant relief programming is accessible to undocumented families
- Increasing access to capital for street vendors and small businesses, regardless of immigration status
- Assisting street vendors in meeting the requirements of the health code, rather than charging them with violations at the first discovery of an issue.
- Supporting State Bills such as AB 2847 that would provide immigrant workers wage replacement and alternative forms of unemployment insurance during difficult times such as during a public health crisis
- Supporting the Long Beach Health Department and local health care clinics serving immigrant communities, regardless of status, with an emphasis on mental health support for immigrants
Keeping families together through the Long Beach Justice Fund
Since its establishment in 2018, the nationally recognized Long Beach Justice Fund has supported more than 40 immigrant families in obtaining legal representation to fight deportation and family separation. Access to legal resources and representation is a basic right regardless of documentation status. It is critical that this fund receives resources and adapts its functions in order to meet the needs of immigrant communities and work to keep families together.
Protecting immigrant families by upholding the Long Beach Values Act
In response to the 400+ executive orders targeting Immigrant Communities by the Trump Administration, Long Beach created the Long Beach Values Act, our city’s version of the California Values Act, which restricts local law enforcement from working with federal immigration authorities, including ICE, unless legally obligated to do so. It’s important that we continue to strengthen and uphold the Long Beach Values Act to keep families together and work towards creating a city built on inclusion rather than fear. In addition, the Long Beach Values Act should ensure that residents eligible for U Visas receive timely certifications from the Long Beach Police Department, as required by state law.
Expanding civic participation through language access and culturally appropriate engagement
The voices of all Long Beach residents, regardless of immigration status, are critical to creating effective and equitable solutions to our city’s greatest challenges. We must continue to create inclusive spaces where all communities can feel they belong. In Long Beach, we have a strong Language Access Policy that requires robust funding to meet its goals. Investing in the ability to provide quality, accurate, multilingual, and culturally appropriate information to non-English speaking communities will help include all residents in our city’s decisions.
Preserving cultural institutions and neighborhoods
Investing in the preservation of culture ensures that every neighborhood sees new, innovative art that engages residents in placemaking, healing, activism, and community building. Creating a Cultural Preservation Fund dedicated to the establishment of Cambodian, Latino, African American, Tribal, and other cultural centers, can help to honor and preserve the unique cultures in our city and provide the infrastructure needed to build on the legacy of events like the Cambodian Town Parade and Festival, Día de Los Muertos, Uptown Jazz Festival, Juneteenth Celebration, and more.
Supporting the state’s efforts to expand Medicaid to low-income immigrants, regardless of residential status
This year, California became the first state to guarantee free health care for all low-income immigrants living in the country regardless of immigration status, which will provide coverage for an additional 764,000 people. We must ensure that our Health Department is prepared for an increase in culturally appropriate outreach and enrollment efforts. Universal access to healthcare is a critical component of a healthy, thriving community.
Tackling wage theft
Wage theft undermines the security and well-being of Long Beach workers, especially from low-income and immigrant communities, the service sector, and other workers, taking advantage of those that do not know their rights or lack the legal or financial resources to defend them. By prohibiting vendors with past workplace safety or wage theft violations from doing business with the City, Long Beach can send a clear signal to all businesses that they must uphold and enforce labor laws and workplace protections.
Thank you to the community leaders who shared their expertise and helped shape our platform:
Senator Lena A. Gonzalez, CA Senate District 33
Councilwoman Dr. Suely Saro, City of Long Beach Council District 6
Paul Barragan-Monge, JD, Director of Mobilization at the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute
Juan M. Benitez, PhD, Executive Director of the CSULB Center for Community Engagement
Martha Cota, Community Advocate
Alyssa Gutierrez, Chair of the City of Long Beach Equity and Human Relations Commission
Gaby Hernandez, Community Organizer
*Title for identification only