Senator Wiener Introduces Legislation To Improve Outcomes For Refugees By Expanding Case Management

January 17, 2023


January 17, 2022


Senator Wiener Introduces Legislation To Improve Outcomes For Refugees By Expanding Case Management


SACRAMENTO – SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 85, the California Extended Case Management Act (CECM). SB 85 would support refugees and those granted asylum by extending the base number of days they are entitled to case management from 90 to 180, with additional days available for extreme cases. Case management connects refugees and asylees with culturally competent case workers to address their unique challenges by helping them access public and private services like Medi-Cal, CalFresh and Covered California. Refugees and asylees already have access to these programs under state and federal law, but they often need assistance to get started.

“We have a moral obligation to shelter those fleeing conflict in faraway places,” said Senator Wiener. “The largest resettlement to America in decades has come with the recent wave of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine, and they are not getting the help they need to integrate smoothly into our communities. This bill will help them access the healthcare, jobs, and housing they need to build successful new lives here, and I am honored to introduce it as co-chair of the Jewish Legislative Caucus, where welcoming the stranger will always be a core priority.”

California hosts 34% of all those granted asylum in the U.S. each year, with the number growing by 9,000 per year on average. Beginning in 2021, the Biden administration began the process of welcoming 95,000 Afghan refugees—the largest resettlement to the U.S. in 40 years—as well as 100,000 Ukrainians.

Many refugees face unique challenges such as PTSD from living in a conflict zone. Without culturally competent assistance, they are often unable to access the care they need to heal and begin a new life. Compounding those difficulties are the challenges of finding the housing and jobs they need to become independent citizens of their new communities.

Case management is an intervention proven to improve outcomes for asylees and refugees.  Reliance on public health insurance in cities without any form of extended case management was shown to be double that of cities with extensions, according to the International Rescue Committee.  Almost double the percent of asylees and refugees enrolled in extended case management felt their employment matched their qualifications versus those without extension.  Household income was also higher for those who received extended case management than those who did not.

Under federal law, refugees and asylees are entitled to 90 days of case management. As this is frequently not enough time for these groups to become established, SB 85 would extend the 90 days to 180 days, expanding the Enhanced Services for Asylees and Vulnerable Noncitizens (ESAVN) program to cover an additional 90 days of case management. In extreme situations, these 180 days would be supplemented by an additional period of up to 180 days. The definition of extreme need would be defined by the California Department of Social Services.

SB 85 is sponsored by Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), the California Welcomes Coalition, the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC), and HIAS (originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).

"CHIRLA, is proud to co-sponsor SB85, and is grateful for the leadership of Senator Scott Wiener,” said Angelica, Executive Director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).  “By extending case management services for Refugees, Asylees and other populations, we are continuing California’s commitment to a California for all. This legislation ensures the needs of the most vulnerable are not only met, but available for an additional amount of time in order for individuals and families to feel more deeply connected to their new communities and to thrive."

"Our Coalition has been working consistently for the past two years to lift the importance of case management and extended services in the experience of those who are newcomers to our state,” said Anahita Panahi, Refugee Campaign Manager, CHIRLA and CA Welcomes Coalition. “This bill would work to transform the lives of thousands of newcomers in California. With the CECM, this would mean that refugees, humanitarian parolees, asylum seekers, asylees and trafficking victims could be eligible to receive extended case management to rebuild their lives with dignity in a time frame that allows them to acclimate and become self-sufficient. We are proud that Senator Wiener is championing this important bill, especially at a time when the number of displaced persons is at an all-time-high.

“It is no coincidence that many Jewish organizations are at the forefront of refugee resettlement and care," said David Bocarsly, Executive Director of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC). "Generations of Jews arrived in America as refugees and built a thriving community, while many others have been fatally harmed when our country’s back was turned. Through the good and bad times, HIAS and Jewish Family Service agencies shaped policies and provided resources to best serve refugees – Jewish and non-Jewish alike. That storied legacy continues today. JPAC proudly joins our coalition members in support of this critical legislation to ensure refugees have the care they need to prosper. And we thank Senator Wiener, co-chair of the Jewish Caucus, for championing this effort.”

"Whether descended from those who fled Czarist pogroms, Nazis, Soviets, the 1979 Revolution in Iran, expulsion and persecution throughout the Middle East and North Africa, or military dictatorships in Latin America, California's Jewish community would be unrecognizable today if not for policies welcoming those seeking refuge in the Golden State,” said Joe Goldman, HIAS’ Community Engagement Director, Western Region. “HIAS, its three resettlement partners JFCS-East Bay, JFS Silicon Valley, and JFS San Diego, and our colleagues across the organized Jewish community are ready to expand the very case management systems that support our new neighbors while cutting long-term costs to taxpayers. We share Senator Wiener's vision of maintaining California's position as the top destination for refugees and immigrants, and we look forward to mobilizing our supporters and partners across the state to make this dream of welcoming the stranger come to reality."

Coauthors include Assemblymember Marc Berman, Assemblymember Corey Jackson, Senator Lena Gonzalez, and Senator Tom Umberg.