Dr. Linda Lopez has been named the Chief of the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles for Immigrant Affairs. Photo/courtesy of the city of Los Angeles

Latina to head Immigrant Affairs office in LA, help immigrants navigate process

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced that Dr. Linda Lopez will serve as the Chief of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, serving under Mayor Garcetti. The office coordinates services to assist immigrants in accessing city resources. In anticipation of immigration reform being enacted, the office will also help immigrants in Los Angeles navigate the pathway to citizenship.

The concept of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs was started in the James Hahn Administration and was proposed by then-Councilman Garcetti. The office continued to exist under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa but was impacted by budget constraints. This effort by current Mayor Garcetti represents an attempt to fully re-establish the office to make Los Angeles the first big city in the nation to have a dedicated initiative to lead immigrants through the immigration process.

Lopez comes to the City of Los Angeles from the University of Southern California where she served as the Associate Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives for the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California and has worked for the National Science Foundation and in the non-profit sector.

“One of the things that Mayor Garcetti has been doing is to make the city more accessible to all who live in Los Angeles, and that includes immigrants, who make up 40 percent of our population,” Lopez said in explaining why the office should exist.

Lopez said that the economic strength of Los Angeles is directly tied to the success of its immigrants.

The Office of Immigrant Affairs will have two mains goals, according to Lopez. The first is to coordinate and link to partner organizations to deliver services to the immigrant population; the second is to find ways to coordinate with the state and federal government agencies that will be involved in navigating the pathway to citizenship if comprehensive immigration reform becomes law.

“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,” Mayor Garcetti said in a written statement.

Lopez intends to use her formal public policy training to make her office have a policy impact at the federal level. She plans to engage with organizations who are working on immigration to promote comprehensive immigration reform.

In closing, Lopez told NBC Latino, “I just want to emphasize that this office will be a place for all immigrants in Los Angeles to connect with the city.”

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