Rights Leaders Urge County to Provide Emergency Info in Multiple Languages

 

SAN DIEGO – As the county braces for another difficult day of wildfires, immigrant rights leaders are urging state, county and local officials and media outlets to provide updated emergency information in multiple languages in order to ensure the safety of all of San Diego county residents.

“It is imperative that local officials and local media are mindful that providing updated information in multiple languages during this state of emergency can save lives,” said Alor Calderon, chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium.

During the 2007 wildfires that devastated the county, immigrant rights organization documented discriminatory practices and unnecessary searches which placed the lives of many at risk.

As a result, in September 2008, the California Legislature passed and the governor signed into law AB 2327, which requires any local or state public employee who provides disaster-related assistance to do so without asking for information or documents that are not strictly necessary to determine eligibility. This generally means that no relief worker or volunteers should ask for IDs of victims seeking shelter, food, water, medical care, or other assistance.

Gov. Code 8596(c) , the resulting law, reads:

Entities providing disaster-related services and assistance shall strive to ensure that all victims receive the assistance that they need and for which they are eligible. Public employees shall assist evacuees and other individuals in securing disaster-related assistance and services without eliciting any information or document that is not strictly necessary to determine eligibility under state and federal laws. Nothing in this subdivision shall prevent public employees from taking reasonable steps to protect the health or safety of evacuees and other individuals during an emergency.

The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium urges local media to:

  1. Communicate emergency information in the major languages of San Diegans (including spoken languages and sign languages).

The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium urges local and county officials to:

  1. Communicate emergency information in the major languages of San Diegans (including spoken languages and sign languages).
  2. Abide by Cal Gov Code 8596 to ensure that public employees (emergency personnel and others) are assisting evacuees and others affected by the fires without eliciting information or documents not strictly necessary under law to access emergency assistance.
  3. Do not involve Border Patrol in emergency service roles in which they might have a deterring effect that would discourage immigrant families from getting out of harm’s way or seeking emergency assistance.

The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium has set up a hotline to report any irregularities during the state of emergency 619-269-1823.

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