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Orange County Is Creating A Hub To Help Immigrants And Refugees

A man wearing a dark red vest sits with his back turned, facing another man in a black mask and jacket who is seated at a computer.
Ahmad, left, listens as Jose Serrano from World Relief in Garden Grove goes over his immigration paperwork with him. The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to establish a hub to help refugees and immigrants better acclimate to the community upon arrival.
(Leslie Berestein Rojas
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Orange County will create a hub to help arriving immigrants and refugees find housing, food, health care and other services under a plan unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The hub, which is to be called the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), was originally proposed by Supervisors Doug Chaffee and Andrew Do.

This comes as the U.S is seeing a surge in Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban rule, along with refugees coming from war-torn Ukraine, Chaffee said. According to a county staff report, 500 Afghan refugees arrived in Orange County following the U.S. military's withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021.

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"Though Orange County is no stranger to refugees, the county has not experienced an influx of refugees at this rate for several decades," the report reads. "When the Afghan refugees arrived in Orange County in 2021, the support infrastructure for refugee resettlement had decreased significantly from 46 years ago, when Vietnam War refugees arrived in the county."

At a Wednesday press conference about OIRA, Chaffee elaborated on the office's purpose, which is to "ensure immigrants and refugees have access to the basic services and resources they need under one roof."

"When refugees arrive, their most basic needs are missing," he said. "They're essentially homeless."

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