1st Annual Immigration Summit

January 13, 2020

Immigrants from all over the world have created a home in L.A. County for generations.  The diversity of the immigrant communities and their contributions to the social, economic and cultural life help make our region the dynamic and vibrant metropolis it is today.  Los Angeles is where the world meets.

What can we do to advance an equitable and immigrant-inclusive vision of immigrant families in which everyone has a role to play in Los Angeles’ future and why this is vital to the region’s future?

To advance such a conversation, the California Community Foundation, in collaboration with the Council on Immigrant Integration and USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII), hosted a first of its kind immigration summit in conjunction with the release of the Council’s first annual State of Immigrants in Los Angeles (SOILA).  Over 300 leaders from the immigrant rights movement, representatives from the public sector, nonprofit and academia, elected officials and philanthropists attended the summit.

Dr. Pastor of USC’s CSII, CCF’s President and CEO Hernández and Mayor Garcetti

CCF’s President and CEO Antonia Hernández opened the summit by encouraging a pro-active agenda that ensures immigrant families can thrive through access to education, economic mobility, and representation and in doing so LA County will prosper in the new decade. She made a call-to-action to philanthropic and public sector partners to invest more in our immigrant communities for the betterment of all of Los Angeles.

Dr. Manuel Pastor of USC’s CSII presented the report findings that underscore the importance of immigrant communities to Los Angeles’ future and documents how immigrants are faring economically, whether they are connected to and engaging in civic life, and the degree to which L.A. County creates a welcoming environment for immigrants. Some key data points from the report include:

Immigrants are part of the fabric of LA County

  • 36 percent of Los Angeles County’s population are foreign-born, and 80 percent of the foreign born have been in the country for longer than 10 years.

Immigrants are an untapped civic force

  • 768,000 immigrants in Los Angeles County were eligible to naturalize in 2016 but had not yet done so.

Immigrants are the bedrock of the Los Angeles economy

  • Immigrants make up 44% of all workers in LA County.

To close the event, Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti joined Ms. Hernández and Dr. Pastor for a fireside chat.  Mayor Garcetti expressed his pride in working with the various immigrant rights activist groups in attendance. He also discussed his efforts to not only re-established the Office of Immigrant Affairs, but to integrate the issue of immigration into all City departments such as Aging, Economic and Workforce Development and the Police Department.  He emphasized his continued commitment towards immigration inclusion.

We also heard from our community partners who are working on the front lines on immigration rights.  Heading into a big election year, they shared innovative and courageous solutions for 2020 around the census, civic engagement, economic opportunity, citizenship and building equity.  Below are a few highlights from the discussions:

Lara & CCF’s Efrain Escobedo

“Today all Californians can serve on local board and commissions, regardless of their immigration status. Their voice and experience are invaluable to our social discourse more than ever.’
Ricardo Lara, California Insurance Commissioner


Kelly Gonez

“I’m pushing for all parents’ right to vote because our immigrants should have the power to choose who represents them and their students.”
Kelly Gonez, LA School Board Member 


Professor Ramakrishnan

“California has achieved a certain level of citizenship, building an infrastructure of rights. We can’t wait for the Federal government to dictate policy.”
Professor Karthick Ramakrishnan, Founding Director, Center for Social Innovation, UC Riverside 



“Many of us do not want to stay janitors forever but want to advance our stories.  How do we open up a space so that immigrant women can rise up and take leadership roles?”
Veronica, Founder of Ya Basta


Cynthia Buiza

“Regardless of who wins in 2020, we have to engage in significant rebuilding because so many protections and structures for opportunity have been stripped away. We need a bolder vision for the future.”
Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center


Joseph Tomás McKellar

“We must meet people where they are while making sure we continue moving them forward if we are going to shift our approach from a reactive to a proactive approach when it comes to immigration.”
Joseph Tomás McKellar, PICO California


See photos from the summit on our Facebook page.


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