Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided to reactivate the mayor's office of immigrant affairs, which existed briefly at the end of the administration of former mayor James Hahn. Garcetti today named Linda Lopez, a political scientist who had been associate dean for diversity and strategic initiatives at USC's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, to be in charge of the office. "Lopez will oversee coordination of city services to help immigrants access resources available to them and, once enacted, will help Los Angeles immigrants navigate the new federal pathway to citizenship," says the Garcetti release. "The Office will also establish partnerships and coordinate among other agencies and organizations assisting immigrants and will analyze and develop state and federal policies that impact immigrants."
Frank Stoltze of KPCC spoke with Lopez briefly.
Lopez, 43, is a political scientist. She was born in Lawndale, raised in Upland, and attended USC. Lopez previously worked at the National Science Foundation in the Directorate for Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences.
“Part of my role in the office is going to have a one-stop shop for all L.A. immigrants – to really connect them with the city and services and local agencies,” said Lopez in an interview with KPCC.
She pointed to a micro-lending program for immigrant businesspeople recently established in New York City as something that could be done in L.A. “One of the things we want to do is to make sure that immigrants have access to capital,” she said.
More coverage: LA Times, Daily News. On the Times' opinion section blog, copy chief Paul Whitefield lampooned the idea of spending city money to help immigrants integrate more into the fabric of the city: "Just what is it about politicians and our money?"
Shows how old-fashioned I am; I was thinking maybe these folks could follow in the tradition of millions of other immigrants to America’s shores and, you know, do that for themselves!....
So here's my bottom line: You really want to benefit everyone in our city? First, fix the streets. Fund the fire department, and the police department. Crack down on gangs and graffiti. Give us more transit options. Deal with waste and corruption in city government. Deal with the budget, and the looming crisis over paying for retiree benefits for city employees. And that’s just for starters.
How about we deal with those things before we start throwing precious tax dollars at the other stuff?
Here's a grab from the Garcetti release.
As a member of the City Council, Mayor Garcetti earlier this year authored legislation to reestablish the office. Garcetti played a leading role in the 2004 launch of the office's previous iteration.
"The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs will play a critical role given L.A.'s large immigrant population and the national spotlight on immigration legislation," Mayor Garcetti said. "Linda Lopez will focus on building a dual-purpose office to help people access services and drive policy to integrate immigrants into the social, political, cultural, and economic fabric of the City of Los Angeles.”
Lopez most recently served as Associate Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives for the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California. Her work there focused on developing innovative programs for first-generation college students. She is trained as a political scientist and has expertise in public policy as it relates to diverse populations in the United States. She has served as Program Director for Cross Directorate Activities in the Directorate for Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation, a federal government agency focused on the funding of research, education programs and STEM workforce development. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California.
"It is a privilege and an honor to join Mayor Garcetti's administration to help L.A. immigrants cut through red tape and make City Hall work for them," Lopez said. “Los Angeles is a city of immigrants, and they contribute significantly to our communities and our economy. Supporting their participation in civic life will benefit everyone in our city."
Photo of Lopez: Mayor's office