Seizing the Moment to Build a Stronger LA for All

June 25, 2021

Deeply rooted, diverse, and essential. Immigrant Angelenos contribute to the economic, social and cultural landscape that makes Los Angeles a thriving and vibrant city. Over the course of the year and beyond, our immigrant community members have weathered the storm and carried us through the pandemic – they have taken care of our loved ones, put food on our tables, and kept our economy afloat as essential workers. Yet, while they have bore the brunt of the pandemic, more than 900,0000 Angelenos—our neighbors, families, students—continue to be excluded from access to economic and government relief packages, quality healthcare, worker protections and rent moratoriums due to their immigration status.

Our future begins now as we build a post-pandemic Los Angeles that is just, equitable and inclusive. In our road to recovery immigrant Angelenos must be placed front and center. Our collective roadmap will require a bold policy agenda that addresses the root causes of systemic inequities that are harmful to us all and challenges us to advance new long-term solutions for immigrants and the place we call home: Los Angeles.

To advance this important conversation, the California Community Foundation (CCF), in collaboration with the Council on Immigrant Integration, USC’s Equity Research Institute (ERI) and the Weingart Foundation hosted its second annual Immigration Summit in conjunction with the release of USC ERI’s second annual State of Immigrants in Los Angeles Report (SOILA). More than 400 leaders from the immigrant rights movement, representatives from the public sector, nonprofit, academia, elected officials and philanthropists attended the virtual summit.

CCF’s President and CEO Antonia Hernández alongside Weingart Foundation’s President and CEO Miguel A. Santana, and Don Howard, President and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation, opened the summit by addressing the significance of this moment and the need for a cross-sector pro-active agenda that is inclusive of the immigrant community and ensures their needs are represented in post-pandemic recovery efforts in order to build a stronger and better Los Angeles for all. They made a call-to-action to philanthropic and public sector partners to work together and invest more in our immigrant communities for the betterment of the region.

Dr. Manuel Pastor of USC’s Equity Research Institute presented the report findings that underscore the importance of immigrant workers to Los Angeles during the COVID-19 pandemic and the disproportionate effects on their health, economic and mental wellbeing. In addition, he addressed the need to center racial justice in all immigrant integration efforts, so that together we can seek to dismantle the systematic racism imbedded in our institutions.

Some key data points from the report include:

Immigrants are part of the fabric of LA County
35% of Los Angeles County’s population are foreign-born.

Immigrants are the bedrock of the Los Angeles economy
Immigrants make up 42% of all workers in LA County.

L.A. County has a large and diverse immigrant population
Among all Black Angelenos (including those identifying as being of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity), about 10% are immigrants.

The gender wage gap persists for immigrant women
Among those with a BA or higher, immigrant women make about $8 less per hour than U.S.-born men.

We also heard from our community partners who are working on immigration rights. Throughout this pandemic these organizations have been in the front lines providing the immigrant community with critical safety net services. They have worked beyond their capacity witnessing unprecedented loss. Below are a few highlights from the discussions:

April Verrett, President of SEIU 2015
In order to honor the sacrifices of low wage workers, especially women and people of color, we must center systemic and structural change in our efforts to build worker power.

Mayra E. Alvarez, The Children’s Partnership
The impacts of #COVID on children of color & of immigrant families includes grief from death of family members & loss of food/housing. The impacts need to be addressed w/ trauma-informed care for our children’s wellbeing.

Lindsay Toczylowski, Immigrant Defenders Law Center 
Unaccompanied minors without legal representation face obstructions to due process. Until our government invests in universal representation for immigrants, they are expected to fight alone within a broken immigration system.


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