History and Achievements

The best practices developed in Santa Clara County have been documented by the following well-known organizations:

The Santa Clara County Model of Immigrant Integration

Over the past two decades Santa Clara County developed a unique approach to immigrant integration. Policy makers, activists, scholars, researchers, county employees and community members often work together to strategize and implement changes in order to better recognize demographic shifts and appreciate immigrant contributions. Out of 58 counties in California and 999 in the United States, only a very few compare to Santa Clara County’s efforts to address the needs of residents born in other countries. With awareness that the majority of the County population is composed of residents born outside the U.S. and their U.S. born children (37% and 27% respectively), Santa Clara County has made significant efforts to develop policies based on research, establish practices and collaborations that go beyond typical approach adopted by other local governments. For these efforts the County has been recognized by its residents, University of Southern California, Institute for Local Government, California Human Rights Organizations (CAHRO), The Vilchek Foundation, and many others.

History and Background: Research and Policy

County Board of Supervisors’ Policies

Committed and innovative County leadership—composed of Board Members, commissions and County employees—has provided the most important basis for Santa Clara County’s foremost accomplishments. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has taken strong policy initiatives on behalf of immigrants in the period between 1996 and 2015. This has allowed the county to be inclusive in the issues of prenatal services for all, the children’s health intuitive and immigrant integration, to name a few. In 2001 the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in support of an amnesty program to allow currently undocumented persons who have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years to become legal residents and eligible for naturalization. Below is the list of the most important County policies and resolutions affecting immigrants:

Summit on Immigrant Needs and Contributions

Over a two-year period, Santa Clara County conducted the most extensive assessment of the human needs of immigrants of any County in the United States. The Board of Supervisors committed $500,000 from July 1999 to June 2001 to a comprehensive study involving over 500 individuals: researchers, community members, university professors, social workers, non-profit agencies, county experts and activists. The study was summarized in two publications: Bridging Borders in Silicon Valley and KIN: Knowledge of Immigrant Nationalities.

Historical Development and Current Programs Enhancing Immigrant Integration


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Office of Immigrant Relations

On February 24, 2015 the Board of Supervisors decided to transform IRIS and form a new standalone Office of Immigrant Relations, allocating additional funding.

creation of OIR Board Approval

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