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Mayor Lee Affirms Support for President Obama’s Federal Immigration Reform & Highlights San Francisco’s Initiative to Provide Pathways to Citizenship

San Francisco to Implement Highly-Anticipated Executive Action by the President; Highlights San Francisco as Sanctuary City for Undocumented Immigrants & Innovative Partnership Program to Naturalize C

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced San Francisco will be ready to implement the highly-anticipated Executive Action by President Barack Obama to provide relief for undocumented immigrants. The President’s Executive Action may potentially impact up to 12,000 undocumented immigrants in San Francisco.

“San Francisco is already a model for the nation in welcoming immigrants and empowering new citizens, but we can do more,” said Mayor Lee. “As the son of immigrant parents, I want others to know, San Francisco will help you. We will be ready when the President issues his Executive Action, and I want San Francisco to be the first City in America to implement his directives. San Francisco is a place that welcomes all residents, regardless of where or how they arrived, and I want to remind immigrants from all countries of one very important fact: San Francisco is a Sanctuary City. We will continue working closely with our broad network of community-based organizations, philanthropic foundations, labor, education and City partners to continue to invest in the future of San Francisco.”

Immediately after President Obama issues his Executive Order, Mayor Lee will create and issue an Executive Directive to ensure San Francisco’s full compliance with the new Federal rules and make sure undocumented people living in San Francisco can be among the first to benefit from any new Federal rules and programs, which may include new pathways to citizenship. The City estimates that there are more than 12,000 undocumented people living in San Francisco right now that could benefit from Presidential action.

San Francisco is a long-time leader in immigrant rights, with substantial investment promoting citizenship, providing access to City services for speakers of other languages and proactively responding to issues such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Unaccompanied Immigrant Children. The City has been working with collaborative partners since planning began for the 2010 Census and the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) reached out to philanthropic partners to pool resources and conduct joint planning and outreach. Under the leadership of then City Administrator Ed Lee, this coalition group improved the City’s ability to serve residents who are undocumented, including providing municipal identification cards regardless of immigration status, a first in the nation.

The City and County has developed strong relationships with immigrant legal, social and community service providers that will allow us to quickly marshal resources to serve the communities impacted by the announcement of Administrative Relief. The City has pioneered innovative collaborations between the public, non-profit, private and philanthropic sectors to promote citizenship, language access and immigrant legal services.  The City will continue to do so for potential Administrative Relief. The City will be ready with new counselors and workshops to help people prepare paperwork and file applications, ready to help with outreach and education to make sure people know their rights, and work local financial institutions so people can afford those fees when it comes time to apply for citizenship.

San Francisco is home to 100,000 citizenship-eligible residents – a figure that represents approximately one in every eight residents. Of the 100,000 citizenship-eligible residents, more than 60 percent are Asian Pacific Islanders and the vast majority, more than 80 percent, are working-age adults between the ages of 18 and 64.

In 2013, Mayor Lee launched the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative to help San Francisco immigrants navigate the process of applying for citizenship. The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative is a three-year public-private partnership between OCEIA and six philanthropic organizations (The San Francisco Foundation, Haas Jr. Fund, Haas Sr. Fund, Asian Pacific Fund, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees). The Pathways to Citizenship Initiative benefits not only those who will become citizens, but also the communities in which new citizens live, work, and contribute – by lowering poverty rates, increasing economic mobility and access to higher education, ensuring greater access to affordable health care, enhancing civic participation, and creating stability and cohesion for immigrant families.

In addition to general support provided by several City Departments, in Fall 2012, the OCEIA initiated the DreamSF Program, providing over $350,000 in annual grants to support outreach, education, legal services and application assistance to potentially eligible youth for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. OCEIA also provides nearly $500,000 per year in language access education and assistance. In June 2014, OCEIA expanded the DreamSF program to include leadership development, skills building and employment for DACA-approved youth.

The City will also be translating vital information into several languages (Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, Russian to start, other languages as the needs emerge). For more information on the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs, go to: