Dear Fellow San Diegans,

Over the past 12 months, we had the privilege of working together across civic, business, social, education and government sectors to produce this strategic plan that will serve as a blueprint for San Diego to become an even more inclusive, dynamic and cohesive city and region.

This process illuminated the various needs and assets of San Diego’s immigrant and refugee communities. It builds on the incredible commitment by individuals and organizations to welcome and incorporate newcomers, and it is inspired by the struggles, triumphs and aspirations of New Americans.

Just as San Diego bridges Tijuana to integrate the most dynamic cross-border megaregion in North America, just as we progress our forward-thinking climate action plan, and just as our universities and companies push the frontiers of technology and innovation, we believe practicing hospitality and inclusion is the hallmark of what makes San Diego special, creative and adaptive.

Collaborating across organizations and learning together has cemented our conviction that everyone benefits from immigrant integration, and welcoming should be everybody’s business. By examining other sub-national plans, policies and outcomes, we look forward to contributing to the worldwide movement of cities that leverage the assets of migrants to enhance inclusive economic growth, smart planning, social cohesion and systems resiliency.

We are grateful for the many ideas, stories and discussions from community members and organizations that anchor this strategic plan. The feedback and community partnerships have resulted in several key areas of policy that our region should consider. The plan addresses the critical systems that can play a deeper and more collaborative role in the incorporation of immigrants and refugees. While there are differences between the groups and organizations that have worked on this initiative, and there remain points of debate in the margins of this document, this strategic plan presents a good faith effort to build consensus and civility around a conversation too often politicized and divisive in our country.

We believe the population of immigrants (one in four San Diegans) must be an integral part of policymaking in multiple areas. Accordingly, we call on our local leaders: mayors, city councilmembers, county supervisors and other elected and administrative leaders to implement the plan and institutionalize the work of immigrant integration in local government. Moreover, we encourage more immigrant leaders to demand a seat and lean in at decision-making tables.

We encourage philanthropists, businesspeople and researchers to identify best practices, evidence-based approaches and financing models to sustain and strengthen the immigrant-serving network, to foster entrepreneurship and to grow immigrant-led enterprises.

We invite guardians of systems such as schools, places of worship, human services, cultural institutions and law enforcement to deepen their inclusivity and cultural responsiveness.

Last but not least, we are excited for newcomer and receiving communities. We are proud that San Diego is a gateway for dreamers, builders and freedom-seekers. We celebrate the diversity in our neighborhoods, classrooms and workplaces. We are optimistic that San Diegans will continue to embrace the ideas, talents and cultures that newcomers bring to make this a world-class city for all.

Whether you just made San Diego your adopted home, or your family has established roots here for generations, our collective future in this sunny corner of the Earth will depend on all of us to listen and understand one another, to appreciate one another’s cultures and to work toward the flourishing of our region.


Mary Abad
San Diego International Affairs Board

Abdi Abdillahi
County of San Diego

Paola Avila
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Karim Bouris
Business for Good

Ciria Brewer
San Diego Unified School District

Carlos Turner Cortez
San Diego Continuing Education

Dwayne Crenshaw
RISE San Diego

Joel Day
City of San Diego

Samuel Tsoi
UC San Diego / RISE San Diego

Eduardo Velasquez
San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

Dale Fleming
County of San Diego

Denice Garcia
City of San Diego

Erin Tsurumoto Grassi
San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium

Stephen Groce
San Diego Human Relations Commission

Andrea Guerrero
Alliance San Diego

Rebecca Paida
San Diego Refugee Forum

Linda Caballero Sotelo
New Americans Museum

Mark Tran
The California Endowment

Tom Wong
UC San Diego