The Santa Cruz Welcoming Network provides comfort and support for people who seek asylum from war zones and places of persecution such as Ukraine, Afghanistan, Central America, Colombia, and Venezuela. Our volunteers connect personally with each asylum seeker and refugee as we assist them in navigating immigration court, housing, work, school and health care. We are committed to the truth that every human being is worthy of a safe place to live and thrive.
Asylum seekers and their families face deportation if they do not win their cases in immigration court. Due to a shortage of lawyers and exorbitant legal costs, most do not have lawyers. We work to make legal representation accessible to all asylum seekers.
We currently assist 50 people and continue to receive requests for help from new individuals and families that have made their way to Santa Cruz. We are an all-volunteer group, 73 strong. We have identified the two greatest needs, legal representation and housing.
We begin with a needs assessment, then organize a team of volunteers with expertise to address the needs. Integrating our new neighbors into our community positively impacts us all, and for this we request assistance from you — our generus community.
As a state senator, I hear stories of immigrants fleeing from violence. I know that it is not just having resources, it is the ability to connect refugees in an unfamiliar land to those resources. Decades ago, when tens of thousands of Cubans came to the US in boats, I sponsored one. He lived with me until he learned English and made his way. I recall those first days, when a supermarket was a foreign experience, where language was a barrier, where the opportunities for help could not have been known to him on his own. For these reasons, I support the efforts of Santa Cruz Welcoming Network. I hope you will find a way that you can support the volunteers who give their time and resources — to make Santa Cruz a welcoming environment.
John Laird, California State Senator, 17th District