Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Garcetti names USC dean to head Office of Immigrant Affairs

Linda Lopez Office of Immigrant Affairs

Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

Linda Lopez says she wants to integrate immigrants into the social life of Los Angeles as the mayor's new chief of the Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Linda Lopez, Associate Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives at USC’s Dornslife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, is L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s pick to head the city's newly-revived Office of Immigrant Affairs.

"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,” Garcetti said in a statement. "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."

In the past, the Democratic mayor has said he supports providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

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.

Lopez said more than 1.5 million people in L.A. — or 40 percent of the city’s population — were born outside of the country. Twelve percent are here legally, 12 percent are undocumented and 16 percent are naturalized citizens.

Former Mayor James Hahn first established an Office of Immigrant Affairs under legislation authored by Garcetti in 2004. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa did not continue the office.

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