San Salvador - A week after President Trump announced cuts in federal aid to Central American countries, Governor Gavin Newsom today becomes the first California Governor to travel to the region, where he will examine root causes of migration and join the world community in being part of a solution to the challenges in El Salvador and Central America more broadly. In addition to meeting with the President of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, President-elect Nayib Bukele and U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes, Governor Newsom is scheduled to meet with local officials, human rights organizations, faith leaders and families affected by violence and poverty in the region.
“California’s past, present and future are linked with Central America. Nearly half of all Salvadoran immigrants to the United States – approximately 680,000 people – live in California,” said Governor Newsom. “They are central to our state’s story. And while the White House casts families fleeing violence as ‘invaders,’ California is proudly a state of refuge.”
“The United States has a unique responsibility to organize a meaningful and humane regional response to the root causes driving families from their homes in Central America. As Washington abdicates its responsibility on the world stage and in the region, California will step up to be part of a multilateral solution,” added Governor Newsom.
The nearly 1.4 million immigrants from El Salvador, representing one-fifth of its population, account for the second-largest Latin American group in the United States, after Mexicans. Nearly half – approximately 680,000 Salvadorans – live in California. They make up the largest population of Salvadorans in any U.S. state. El Salvador’s rate of people driven from their homes due to violence and conflict – 3,600 out of every 100,000 inhabitants – is second only to Syria. In 2016, El Salvador was the second leading country of nationality, next to China, for persons granted defensive asylum in the United States.
The Governor will be joined by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, the only Salvadoran serving in the California Legislature, and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
Last month, Governor Newsom met with Central American community leaders in Los Angeles to discuss California’s efforts to provide relief and humanitarian aid to asylum seekers fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries.
As the White House vilifies asylum seekers, California is providing an alternative to the reckless anti-immigration agenda emanating from Washington. In his first weeks in office, Governor Newsom signed AB 72, legislation to fast-track state aid to asylum seekers who are being abandoned at bus stations and on the side of the road by the federal government. It was the first bill he signed into law. AB 72 established a Rapid Response Relief Fund of $5 million in immigration assistance, which helped support the opening of a migrant support shelter in San Diego.