Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Remembering USC's Harry Pachon, an influential expert on Latino politics

As we move toward the 2012 elections, there's one voice that will be sorely missed. The University of Southern California's Harry Pachon, a professor of public policy and expert on Latino politics, died last Friday at 66. He had been a leading voice on the Latino vote for years, most recently as president of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, which was founded in 1993 in Claremont and moved to USC ten years later. Before that, Pachon served as executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, which he co-founded.

A few years back, during the time of the historic 2006 immigration marches, I interviewed him on the importance of immigration as a political issue for Latinos. What Pachon said then: "Politics, for most Americans, is not an everyday-life issue. It is not something that affects you personally. That is why these demonstrations are so interesting, because what it shows is that immigration is not an academic issue; it is a genuine issue on the Hispanic immigrant side. You are talking about your friends, relatives, neighbors."

USC's Daily Trojan published an obituary quoting an email sent out by Jack H. Knott, the university's dean of policy, planning and development:

"Under his leadership, TRPI grew into a civic research organization with national visibility and impact, making major contributions in the areas of immigration, education policy, and Latino politics and policy," Knott said. "As director of TRPI, Harry had a tremendous impact on the Latino community, both locally and nationally."

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