San Diego – Embracing Refugees in Past, Present, and Future

San Diego County has been a home to refugees from all over the globe for many years.  In recent years the region has likely taken in more refugees than any other region in the United States. 


Refugee – a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.


Per the San Diego Union-Tribune, “this region gets approximately 3,000 new refugees each year, with a striking majority hailing from restive Iraq.”  In fiscal year 2009 the county took in 4,168 which has declined to 1,610 in fiscal year 2015 – I believe the 3,000 in the article is the average for the period 2009-2015.  Per the same article the refugees that have settled in San Diego and formed a community here over the past 45 years have included those from:

  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Sudan
  • Ethiopia
  • Eritrea
  • Syria
  • Iraq

Per the American Immigration Council since fiscal year 2007 the following states have taken in the highest number of refugees:

  1. California – 25,716
  2. Michigan – 18,047
  3. Texas – 12,956
  4. Arizona – 7,447

Based on these sources San Diego has taken in more refugees than any other region in California and California has taken in more refugees than any other state in recent years.  I can’t find a breakdown by county or region but based on this it seems very likely that San Diego has taken in more refugees than any other area.

If you visit City Heights in San Diego you’ll find a wide variety of refugee communities, and in other areas of the city as well.  It says something about an area that takes in so many, and in which many decide to settle long-term and welcome later arrivals.  I feel pride that San Diego is a place that is desirable to live in for those fleeing persecution.

There is a heated debate currently regarding refugees from Syria and who will or will not welcome them in the United States.  I trust that San Diego, officially and socially, will continue to welcome refugees from all over the world.  San Diego is a very safe place to live – large amounts of refugees settling here for many decades have not compromised our safety.  What newly arrived refugees will do is strengthen our regional community and reaffirm that San Diego is a welcoming place to people from the world over whether refugees, visitors, investors, children, professionals, or otherwise.  In time they’ll offer a helping hand to those that follow and start families, companies, non-profits, and community organizations that reinvigorate our neighborhoods.  It’s ever been the story of the United States and one that San Diego will continue to follow.

That’s something that all San Diegans can be proud of. #SDlove

However you look at it, one world.
San Diego – open to the world.

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John P Anderson

I'm a Kansas native living in San Diego. I enjoy learning about environmental issues and connecting with good people that want to make the world a better place. Cheers!

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