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					Immigrant Integration
in Los Angeles
           Strategic Directions for Funder s

       By Manuel Pastor and Rhonda Or tiz
       Program for Environmental and Regional Equity
       & Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration
              University of Southern California
    Commissioned by the California Community Foundation

                     January 2009

This report looks at the challenges and opportunities of immigrant integration in Los Angeles
County. It seeks to frame the debate and future policy with a careful grounding in the facts, using
data collected from both secondary sources and insights gleaned from a series of focus groups and
interviews. The intended audience is broad – civic and business leaders, immigrant advocates, public
officials, and other interested parties – but we make a special effort here to spell out what a
philanthropic agenda might be for promoting immigrant integration here in Los Angeles.

As researchers and activists, we have long been committed to an expansive view of immigrants and
their contribution to society – and so we begin our acknowledgments by simply thanking the
California Community Foundation for giving us the opportunity and generous support to work on
this project. We want to especially thank from the Foundation, Linda Wong, Virginia Mosqueda,
Cathy Choi, Antonia Hernandez and Rachel Sonntag-Bloom for their support, participation and
valuable input.

From the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, we would like to thank Jennifer Tran
for all the careful data analysis, graphs and maps, Martha Matsuoka for her help organizing and
facilitating the focus groups, Jackie Agnello for the creative design work, and Vanessa Carter, Anjali
Nath, Amaka Okechukwu, and Jennifer Renteria for jumping in where necessary to provide research
and logistical support.

Most importantly, we would like to thank all the community leaders, faith-based advocates, business
and workforce development leaders, labor organizers, city and planning officials, and funders who
came to our convenings and participated in interviews, for their valuable insights and frank
discussions on how to best integrate immigrants into Los Angeles to improve the region overall.

Photo by: Kevin Ksen, Worcester Indymedia
 Table of Contents

Executive Summary                                                                          1

Introduction                                                                               12

The State of Immigrant Los Angeles                                                         15
               The Geography of Immigration in Los Angeles County                          17
               The Diversity of Immigrants in Los Angeles County                           22
               Immigrant Work and Income in Los Angeles County                             23
               English and Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles County                     28
               Living in the Shadows in Los Angeles County                                 30
               Immigrants and the Health Care Challenge                                    31
               Immigrants Progress Over Time                                               33
               Future Prospects for Immigrants in Los Angeles County                       37

Learnings from the Community                                                              38
               1. Reframing the Debate                                                     41
               2. Collaboration and Relationship Building                                  43
               3. Leadership Development                                                   44
               4. Policy and Advocacy                                                      44
               5. The Need for Research                                                    46
               6. Adult English Language Acquisition                                       47
               7. School Age Learners                                                      48
               8. Workforce Development                                                    49
               9. Community Education and Organizing                                       50
               10. Public Benefit Use and Access                                           51

Recommendations for Strategic Directions                                                   54
               Goal 1. Increase opportunities for economic mobility for immigrants,
               their families and their communities.                                       55
               Goal 2. Enhance opportunities for civic participation by immigrants.        59
               Goal 3. Foster openness in society towards immigrants and their families.   64
               The Niche for Foundations                                                   68

Conclusion                                                                                 71

Appendix: Focus Group Participants                                                         73
Executive Summary

  With vibrant passion and strong                         Building on this recognition of
  language, the debate about immigration                  immigrant presence, mutual interest,
  policy in the United States has often                   and changed circumstances, some
  generated more heat than light. Lost in                 community, business, and foundation
  the flurry has been the recognition that                leaders have begun to contemplate what
  in some regions, including metropolitan                 role they can play in promoting
  Los Angeles, the immigrant presence is                  immigrant integration at a local and
  more a fact than a talking point, and as                regional level. This report explores
  much an opportunity as a challenge.                     such potential roles and investments in
                                                          this arena in Los Angeles County and
  While Washington may focus on flows                     is the product of a combination of a
  and borders, Los Angeles is marked by                   review of the literature, secondary data
  stocks and passages: one third of our                   analysis, and extensive discussions with
  residents are immigrants, nearly half                   community leaders.
  of our workforce is foreign-born, and
  two-thirds of those under 18 are the
  children of immigrants. The fates of                    What is Immigrant Integration?
  these immigrant workers, families, and                  Immigrant integration can be defined
  their children, 90 percent of whom are                  as improved economic mobility for,
  U.S.-born, are not just their concern.                  enhanced civic participation by, and
  How they fare will determine how we                     receiving society openness to
  all fare in Southern California.                        immigrants. Each of these dimensions
                                                          is measurable and each reflects
  Earlier in American history, the task
                                                          fundamental American values:
  of effectively integrating immigrants
                                                          opportunity in the case of economic
  was taken up by institutions such as
                                                          mobility, democracy in the area of
  settlement houses, unions, and urban
                                                          engagement, and openness reflected by
  political machines – and integration was
                                                          host society attitudes and policies.
  helped by a thriving industrial sector
  that provided good and secure jobs to                   Implicit in this triplet of fundamental
  workers with modest skills. But many                    principles is yet another American
  of these institutions have been weakened                value: the notion of mutual interests and
  in subsequent years even as globalization               mutual obligations. While often stuck
  has curtailed wage growth for those with                in low-skill and low-wage employment,
  a high school education or less.                        immigrant labor contributes over forty
                                                          percent of our gross regional product
                                                          and immigrant spending power is

                                              -   1   -
                                                                                                 Immigrant Integration
               nearly 36 percent of the region’s total.             Who are the Immigrants?
               Demographers predict that the aging of               While the popular discourse about
               baby boomers will create an even more                immigrants in the Southland conjures
               important role for immigrants in                     up images of undocumented Mexicans,
               sustaining the economy and society. As               Los Angeles has actually seen the share
               a result, even U.S.-born residents have              of Mexicans, as a percent of immigrants,
               a vital stake in immigrant outcomes,                 decline over time; of those County
               particularly in immigrant-rich metros like           residents who arrived in the last ten years
               Los Angeles.                                         or less, only 36 percent are from Mexico.
                                                                    Newer immigrants, particularly from
               At the same time, immigrant families and
                                                                    China, Korea, the Philippines, Armenia,
               communities need to meet the demands
                                                                    Central America, and Africa, have
               implicit in becoming part of our regional
                                                                    become increasingly present, with each
               landscape: learning English, pursuing
                                                                    community facing particular challenges
               education, and getting involved in local
                                                                    and nuances. And while the current
               decision-making. To do this, they will
                                                                    refugee population is relatively small
               need support, through investments in
                                                                    and has been declining nationally, it is
               expanding educational opportunities
                                                                    expected to rise in coming years,
               and job training for all ages, a developed
                                                                    particularly with newcomers from Iraq.
               community-based immigrant leadership
               that can network and coalesce effectively            Immigrants are generally a younger
               with others, and enhanced capacities of              population, with the most recent
               agencies and governments that serve a                arrivals tending to cluster in the prime
               changing population.                                 working age population of those in their
                                                                    mid-twenties to mid-fifties. Labor
               But no comprehensive program for
                                                                    force participation rates for immigrants
               immigrant integration should focus
                                                                    are high, with rates for immigrant men
               only on immigrants. We need to also
                                                                    exceeding those of U.S.-born men. Labor
               encourage inter-ethnic communication,
                                                                    participation rates are lower for immigrant
               and most of all, a new narrative about our
                                                                    women than for U.S.-born women, but
               common destiny. The latter is a “soft”
                                                                    less so for those who are long-term
               investment – some may think we need to
                                                                    immigrants — surprising, given the
               put money into services not stories – but
                                                                    higher probability that immigrant women
               it is critical to encourage the openness
                                                                    are parents.
               and receptivity that will allow immigrants
               and the broader community to strive and              The immigrant community has spread
               thrive together.                                     geographically in recent years, with

                                                     -      2   -
Immigrant Integration
a reach well beyond the traditional                      Mexican origin – but given the popular
entry points of East Los Angeles and                     conception that all undocumented are
mid-city to areas like the San Fernando                  Mexican and that all Mexicans are
Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, and                      undocumented, this merely highlights
South Central. Smaller cities often find                 the diversity of the unauthorized
themselves unprepared for the scale of                   population. Los Angeles also has a
the population changes and struggle to                   more settled population than most of
provide necessary services or engage new                 America’s metros – although nearly 50
residents in civic processes. More settled               percent of our undocumented residents
immigrants are spreading even further                    have been here 10 years or less – and our
around the County as economic success                    own lower-bound estimates suggest that
often translates into movement away                      at least 15 percent of children in Los
from the central city and the inner ring                 Angeles County are living in families
suburbs immediately adjoining to the                     with at least one parent facing status
city.                                                    issues.

Within the region’s urban core, the                      Finally, immigrants comprise 46 percent
demographic transformation in South                      of the workforce in Los Angeles, making
Central has been of particular interest.                 them integral to the growth of the local
For example, the seven major public                      and regional economy. Because of this,
high schools in that area went from 85                   recent attempts by Immigration and
percent African American in the early                    Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target
1980s to over 70 percent Latino today,                   employers with a significant number
partly because of an influx of immigrant                 of immigrant workers have worried
families. Alongside the experience of                    business leaders, some of whom recently
residential change and Black job loss in                 joined with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
key industries, this shift in population                 to ask ICE to stop raids of otherwise
has triggered a set of tensions that has                 law-abiding companies. And it isn’t just
roiled community politics, despite the                   the downside of losing workers
efforts of innovative organizations to                   that motivates concern: the large size
create new spaces for dialogue and                       of the immigrant workforce means
sharing.                                                 that targeted efforts to raise their skills
                                                         and wages now will pay off in overall
Los Angeles is also home to the                          regional productivity and prosperity
largest undocumented population in                       tomorrow.
any American metropolis. Of the
estimated one million undocumented in                    And while labor matters, it isn’t the only
the County, nearly 60 percent are of                     side of the equation motivating

                                             -   3   -
                                                                                                 Immigrant Integration
               business and economic leaders: While the              Meanwhile, generational progress in
               incomes of the foreign-born population                English proficiency seems to be as alive
               tend to be lower than their native-born               and well as in earlier eras in American
               counterparts, their sheer numbers                     history. In addition, immigrant
               translates to a buying power that is a                entrepreneurship seems to be thriving,
               major contributor to our economic health.             with rates of self-employment for
               This is true because they still need to buy           immigrants well above those for the
               food, other staple items, consumer goods              native-born of the same ethnic groups.
               and services in general. In the aggregate,
               they are akin to the “emerging markets”               That we do not often see this progress is
               of developing countries and have become               attributable to what USC demographer
               the focal points for significant financial            Dowell Myers calls the ‘Peter Pan’ fallacy:
               investments and business development.                 we assume that immigrants never age and
                                                                     that their outcomes will be those that
                                                                     we associate with the most recent and
               How are They Doing?                                  struggling immigrants. Yet immigrant
               One of the most striking facts about                  integration is all about aging gracefully
               immigrants in Los Angeles County                      and productively in ways that will
               is how rooted they are in the region.                 contribute to immigrant well-being,
               Sixty-three percent of those who migrated             broader social stability, and regional
               over 30 years ago own their own home, a               economic prosperity.
               rate eight points above that of U.S.-born
                                                                     Of course, immigrants do face numerous
               residents. While there are differences in
                                                                     economic challenges. Foremost among
               immigrant home ownership patterns by
                                                                     these is English acquisition, a skill that
               national origin, Latino immigrants who
                                                                     often raises wages by 15 to 20 percent
               have been here for 30 years have rates very
                                                                     and opens the doors to other sorts of job
               similar to those of U.S.-born whites, even
                                                                     training and employment opportunities.
               though Latinos exhibit the lowest rates of
                                                                     Yet there is a striking shortage of such
               home acquisition of all immigrants.
                                                                     English learning opportunities for adults,
               This evidence of economic mobility is                 and it is a problem that also indirectly
               echoed by examining the income of                     affects children. Of those primary school
               long-term residents. While the                        children identified as English learners,
               probability of being in higher — and                  nearly 80 percent are U.S.-born and likely
               middle-income quintiles is lower for                  living in households where English is a
               long-term immigrants than it is for                   desired but often distant second language.
               U.S.-born residents, the gap is not large.

                                                      -      4   -
Immigrant Integration
Even immigrants with English
abilities and high educational
attainment can face barriers.
The Migration Policy Institute
notes that around 40 percent of
college-educated immigrants
from Latin America and a
quarter of college-educated
residents from Asia find
themselves stuck in low-wage
employment. Labor market
experts attribute this to the
problem of ‘credentialing’ – that
is, the phenomenon in which
degrees obtained abroad are
                                           Mural at KIWON (Koreatown Immigrant Workers
discounted or not recognized by
                                           Organization) in Los Angeles.
U.S. employers – and suggest
                                           Photo by Rabble.
that employers and governments
need to find ways to better
recognize and reward skills.
                                                         What is Needed Now?
Immigrants also face challenges
with regard to civic participation.                      While data analysis can provide a
Many are reluctant to engage with                        backdrop, filling in the picture requires
governmental authorities because                         listening to grassroots groups who work
of distrust brought from their home                      every day on issues affecting immigrants
countries. While improving rates of                      and the broader community. To do
naturalization and increasing numbers                    this, we convened focus groups drawing
of voters points to great possibilities,                 from a variety of constituencies,
local governments find it sometimes                      including immigrant rights advocates,
difficult to solicit immigrant voices in                 business leaders and workforce
planning and other processes. Taking                     developers, funders and foundation
a coordinated approach to this is tough                  officers, city planners and elected
because governmental responsibility is                   officials, labor and community
highly fragmented, particularly in the                   organizers, and interethnic
sprawling political landscape of Los                     coalition-builders.
Angeles County.

                                           -   5     -
                                                                                                Immigrant Integration
               We expected to hear a range of                         for research that could both make the
               concerns – and we did – but there was                  case about immigrant contributions and
               also striking agreement on several key                 create a common ground understanding
               areas. Most evident was the need to                    of mutual interest between communities
               shift the ‘frame’ of the current dialogue              and generations. Data alone will not be
               to emphasize the assets that immigrants                sufficient. Rather, public dissemination
               bring to our communities. The                          strategies and the convening of local
               importance of investing in leadership                  leadership from multiple sectors are
               development in both immigrant and                      critical to having a new “frame” become a
               U.S.-born communities was also                         new shared narrative.
               mentioned as a crucial focus area. Finally,
               the significance of focusing on key                    Thus, leadership development in multiple
               policies, particularly in the areas of                 communities is crucial. It is easy to point
               education, job training, and civic                     to relative leadership gaps in immigrant
               engagement which could indicate models                 communities as many have very young
               that work.                                             and still maturing organizations. There
                                                                      are also many places, like South Central,
               The ‘frame’ around immigrants is                       where a large immigrant population is
               fundamental: if we simply visualize                    not matched by an equally large number
               immigrants as a problem to be tackled,                 of institutions and groups that can
               we are unlikely to build the political                 broadly articulate and represent their
               will to invest in communities and will                 interests. Investing in capacity-building
               instead have a discourse dominated by                  for community-based organizations is
               the hope that the ‘problem’ will someday               therefore an important part of improving
               go away. It will not and it is not actually            civic climate.
               a problem: front-line business leaders
               stressed their long-term reliance on an                But the problem of leadership does not
               increasingly immigrant workforce, union                just lie on the immigrant side. We need
               leaders highlighted how their organizing               to encourage a shift in attitudes and an
               gains had come through the actions of                  equally new set of leadership skills on the
               immigrant labor, and city planners and                 part of the receiving communities. A new
               community developers noted how urban                   macro-level public information strategy
               revitalization is often driven by immigrant            will help at the regional level but we also
               energy.                                                need a well-constructed set of
                                                                      micro-level programs that can bring
               That this is not the dominant story in the             immigrant and U.S.-born leaders together
               public imagination is partly due to politics           to hash out their common objectives and
               but it is also due to information gaps.                common future.
               Focus group participants stressed the need

                                                      -       6   -
Immigrant Integration
Especially important, we need to                           be encouraged by reaching out to new
continue investing in African American                     populations in multiple languages and
organizations, both because they are                       being sensitive to different needs and
looking for help as they adjust to new                     styles of interaction.
immigrant constituencies in their
service areas and because they have
been the bedrock for many efforts                          What Can Funders Do?
aimed at community development and                         These are a broad set of tasks which
social justice in increasingly immigrant                   should be taken up by multiple actors.
communities.                                               Business-labor collaborations around job
                                                           training, interjurisdictional cooperation
Finally, Americans are a pragmatic lot.                    around service provision, and
We may be driven by lofty ideals of                        improvements in education for
opportunity, democracy, and openness                       immigrant children are needed. There
but we only support what may                               are exciting examples of such efforts in
actually work. Thus, we can learn from                     Los Angeles and other metropolitan
specific successful policies adopted by                    areas. But what can and should
comprehensive immigrant integration                        foundations do, particularly at a regional
efforts in Illinois, the Silicon Valley, and               level?
elsewhere. Most critical among these
policies is the enhancement of English                     Specific strategies should be rooted
language capacities of immigrant                           in our basic values of improving
families and their children – something                    opportunity, enhancing democracy, and
that we know how to do but that is both                    encouraging openness, values that imply
underfunded and stymied by                                 action in terms of encouraging mobility,
complicated lines of government                            engagement, and the degree of social
authority.                                                 receptivity. If we see these as the three
                                                           basic dimensions of a grantmaking
Job training programs are also critical                    strategy then concrete activities and
and require business and government                        measurable outcomes, specific goals and
to step up their efforts. Such programs                    objectives for the proposed grantmaking
need to be redesigned to meet                              priorities might include the following:
immigrant needs, particularly for those
who are already working long hours in
low-wage jobs. The credentialing issue                     Increase opportunities for economic
also deserves attention, with specific                     mobility for immigrants, their families
                                                           and their communities, by:
efforts needed to help employers assess
and reward education obtained abroad.                         Supporting the economic
Meanwhile, civic engagement should                            advancement of immigrants in

                                               -   7   -
                                                                                                     Immigrant Integration
                  the workforce through English                        immigrant populations, build a firm
                  language acquisition, workforce                      basis for collaboration and
                  and business development, and                        participation.
                  the recognition of the educational
                  credentials of foreign-trained workers;           Foster openness in the broader society
                                                                    towards immigrants and their families by:
                  Increasing opportunities for families
                   and children of immigrants by                       Supporting organizations that seek
                   working to improve K-12 education                   to reframe the debate and provide a
                   and by specifically promoting parental              balanced view of immigrant
                   involvement in schools; and                         contributions to the local
                                                                       regional economy and society;
                  Investing in African American
                   communities and organizations in                    Helping local governments understand
                   increasingly immigrant communities                  that immigrant integration is a
                   so as to complete the economic                      core responsibility and assisting
                   and social integration of neglected                 officials who are finding ways to
                   native populations.                                 work across often complicated
                                                                       jurisdictional lines; and
               Enhance civic participation opportunities               Supporting groups that organize
               for immigrants by:
                                                                       around common issues that span
                  Building leadership skills through the               all the diverse immigrant and
                  use of proven models, experimentation                non-immigrant populations, and
                  with new models, and active                          can help various communities see
                  learning from leadership training                    their mutual regional interests.
                  experiences in other regions;
                  Increasing political participation                What is the Funder Role?
                   through support of naturalization,               While some of the recommendations
                   as well as encouraging immigrant                 above include supporting specific service
                   residents to participate in local                delivery programs, foundations can also
                   planning processes and assisting                 play a role as convenors of leadership,
                   city authorities in developing                   providers of information, investors in
                   appropriate outreach; and                        models, and movers of policy.
                  Supporting multi-ethnic,
                  multi-sector, and multi-agency
                                                                    Convening and Developing Leadership
                  convening processes that can help
                  immigrants and non-immigrants, as                 Foundations can launch a series of efforts
                  well as leaders from the diverse                  to convene leadership to work in the areas

                                                        -   8   -
Immigrant Integration
of the economy, civic engagement, and                    this involves the development of new
social reception. They can, for example,                 research capacity, perhaps through a
help create conversations about                          series of allied institutions that can focus
workforce needs that would bring                         on the facts of immigrant integration
business, unions, and workforce                          and also document and assess emerging
trainers together to review best practice                successful practices. But it also involves
strategies for up-skilling immigrant                     the creation of a new ability to create
workers. Regional foundations can, as                    and disseminate messages about
noted above, bring agencies together                     immigrant contributions, immigrant
across cities to understand why and how                  progress, and the interdependence of
immigrant integration should be a core                   long-time and recent residents.
government responsibility. And they
could convene a broad range of civic                     This does not mean supporting a
leadership to raise public consciousness                 Pollyannaish view of immigration: there
on the issue.                                            are real issues of displacement, cultural
                                                         change, and competition that will
Foundations can also help to develop                     require honest analysis and discussion.
the leadership to be convened. This                      But by supporting the development of
involves investing in training programs                  information, leadership, and dialogue,
in a wide variety of community-based                     foundations can create the groundwork
organizations, supporting efforts to                     for what some have termed “the highest
naturalize immigrants and encourage                      common ground” – an understanding of
electoral participation, and working with                mutual interests forged not by shallow
city agencies to open public participation               agreement but by the hard work of
processes to non-citizen residents. But it               conversation and compromise.
also means bringing leaders together to
understand their mutual interests – and
                                                         Investing in and Promoting Models
funders are often in a unique position to
command the respect and attention of                     Foundations can also lead the way to
multiple strands of leadership.                          best practices and programs by investing
                                                         in model community-based literacy
                                                         programs, stellar efforts to engage
Providing and Framing Information
                                                         immigrant parents in their children’s
Foundations have an important                            education, and unique and unexpected
potential role in dispelling myths and                   coalitions amongst community
educating the public about the facts                     organizations. This list can easily be
of immigrant integration. Part of                        expanded to other areas, including

                                             -   9   -
                                                                                                  Immigrant Integration
               health, workforce, and urban planning,               Foundations should also support direct
               but the point here is simply for funders             policy change at a local or metropolitan
               to be conscious about investing in, then             level. Regional funders can easily lead at
               disseminating the lessons from innovative            this level by convening local government
               programs.                                            actors and helping them identify obstacles
                                                                    standing in the way of effective service
               Such promotion is important because                  delivery to immigrant communities. This
               immigrant integration has become an                  is not an easy task – the fragmentation
               issue of real concern to many                        that affects immigrant families affects
               philanthropies. This implies that funders            many other realms of public policy – but it
               should themselves practice collaboration             is nonetheless crucial.
               and learning, sharing the lessons from
               their programs quickly and broadly
               to other funders and other regions.                  What Do We Stand to Gain?
               The overall goal should be to spread                 America has long been celebrated as
               knowledge of effective practices that can            a nation of immigrants. This is a bit
               generate a more productive future for                misleading – we had a sizeable and
               immigrants and the larger society.                   eventually displaced indigenous
                                                                    population, not all who came to our
               Moving and Shaping Policy                            shores were willing migrants, and some
                                                                    populations just happened to live on land
               Model programs will not be enough –                  we annexed. Nonetheless, this telling
               policies must change as well. Foremost               myth is rooted in the reality of many
               among these is national immigration                  residents and it has been a crucial part of
               reform. For example, if we do not                    our national ethos.
               eventually craft an immigration policy
               that includes a path to citizenship, nearly          We often think the resulting America,
               ten percent of the Los Angeles County                one characterized by growth, prosperity,
               population and an even larger share of its           and opportunity, was just the happy
               workers will be in permanent and                     consequence of a nearly automatic process
               dangerous limbo. Foundations can and                 of assimilation. But the truth is that the
               should help move a national agenda by                emergence of unions and the strength
               investing in community organizations                 of business allowed many immigrants
               that are working on state and national               to move from the working class to the
               policy, and supporting the efforts of those          middle class. Strong investments in
               who are protecting communities from the              education at all levels allowed their
               excesses of current policy.                          children to achieve success in college and

                                                     -     10   -
Immigrant Integration
become professionals. Finally, a series                 workers and entrepreneurs or we can
of strategies, including federal lending                change policies and programs to insure
programs and Social Security, allowed                   that such efforts can create a better life
these families and their children to                    for the region as a whole.
own homes and attain some degree of
benefits at retirement.                                 Immigrant integration is not a special
                                                        program or a special interest. It is a
The nation stands at a crossroads and                   common effort that can benefit us all
Los Angeles is spinning in the vortex of                and it is one that will resonate with our
change. Regardless of what happens in                   deepest values of economic mobility,
Washington, the future of our region                    democratic participation, and openness
is now deeply connected to the fates of                 to people and their ideas. However, it
large numbers of local immigrants and                   will require leadership in an era when
their children. We can let ourselves                    other institutions, including
drift to division and disappointment, or                government, have lost their way.
we can work together to build on the                    Funders can be an important part of
assets of immigrant communities and                     that leadership; stirring other actors and
forge common bonds between cities                       institutions as together we find our way
and constituencies. We can ignore                       to a brighter and more inclusive future
the economic dynamism of immigrant                      for all residents.

                                           -   11   -
                                                                                                 Immigrant Integration

                 “Immigration is a federal policy,                    and help to revitalize local and regional
                 but immigrant integration is a                       economies – have been upset with the
                 local responsibility.”                               tenor of these local debates. However,
                  – Policy and Planning Focus                         they have not as often sketched out a full
                 Group Participant                                    alternative that can promote successful
                                                                      immigrant integration.
               The failure of Congress to pass
               comprehensive immigration reform has                   Los Angeles County is especially pressed
               generated uncertainty about the direction              to offer such an alternative. One-third
               of immigration legislation. However, the               of our residents are immigrants, half of
               stalemate in Washington does not change                our workforce is foreign-born, and nearly
               the facts on the ground. In many areas                 two-thirds of those under the age of 18
               of the country, the growing presence of                are the children of immigrants. How we
               immigrants and their children has become               fare as a region and a society depends
               both crucial to regional economic success              on whether these children are educated,
               and a source of social friction.                       these families are prosperous, and these
                                                                      communities find a civic voice. And given
               The resulting localization of immigration              the bellwether status of Los Angeles as
               policy has unsettled communities. State                an immigrant entry point, what happens
               legislatures throughout the country have               in Los Angeles will set precedence for
               introduced over 1500 pieces of legislation             how regions throughout the nation will
               that seek to address immigration                       approach immigrant integration.
               enforcement. Cities and counties have
               experienced heated discussions about                   This report is based on the research of the
               immigrant overcrowding, unregulated                    Program for Environmental and Regional
               day labor sites, and the use of English in             Equity (PERE) at the University of
               schools and workplaces.1 Those working                 Southern California (USC) and is
               closely with immigrant communities –                   intended to complement a report by the
               and those who believe that better                      Migration Policy Institute (MPI) entitled
               incorporating immigrants into                          “Analytic Framework for Developing
               mainstream institutions and society can                an Immigrant Integration Strategy for
               lead to their economic and social success,             Los Angeles County.” We add to that
                                                                      excellent work in two main ways. First,
                   Dirk Hegen, “2007 Enacted State Legislation        we supplement the data developed by
                 Related to Immigrants and Immigration,”              MPI with the most recent releases of
                 National Conference of State Legislatures,           quantitative data including the American
                 (Immigrant Policy Project, November 29,
                                                                      Community Survey (ACS) and analyze
                 immig/2007immigrationfinal.htm.                      and map indicators especially relevant to

                                                         -   12   -
Immigrant Integration
Los Angeles. Second,
we bring in community
voices, utilizing results
from convenings of six
small groups of selected
stakeholders and
numerous interviews.

Our main findings are
straightforward. First,
Los Angeles County
has a large and
increasingly diverse
presence of immigrants
and their families – and
while there are clearly
problems and obstacles
to be overcome,
immigrants also
exhibit long-term
mobility traditional to
the American
experience. Second,           Elisha Lee and classmates celebrate multicultural day at Hancock
there is a widespread         Park Elementary School.
                              Photo by Elaine Lee.
sense that immigrants
participate in and                                     Third, there is a striking emphasis
contribute significantly to our economy                amongst all stakeholders on “soft”
and society. From business community                   investments: improvements in
leaders to immigrant rights activists to               messaging about immigrants,
labor union organizers to city officials               development of leadership in immigrant
and planners, we found a surprisingly                  communities, and capacity-building for
common recognition of the need to                      interethnic cooperation and
facilitate immigrant integration                       collaboration. Fourth, there is
and through this, to improve the                       remarkable consensus on some of the
regional economy and society.                          key “hard” or service-oriented
                                                        investments: new mechanisms for

                                         -   13     -
                                                                                            Immigrant Integration
               civic participation by immigrants, new               earnings, and neighborhood-level
               programs (especially English acquisition)            demographic shifts that have frequently
               for workers who need skills to improve               triggered tensions. We then turn to a
               their status in the labor market, and                review of the focus groups and interviews,
               significant improvements in education                highlighting the participants’ emphasis
               that can help prepare children for                   on changing the regional narrative around
               adulthood.                                           immigration, investing in leadership
                                                                    development, and creating a series of
               Finally, there is a strong desire among              concrete strategies that can improve
               multiple sectors to see the conversation             economic and social mobility.
               shift and for measurable change to take
               place. Regardless of what may occur at the           We conclude the report with
               national level, Los Angeles appears ready            recommendations for the field of
               for something different. We see a                    philanthropy. We organize these into
               recognition that we really are in this               three areas: improvements in immigrant
               together and that our civic health will              economic outcomes, enhancement of
               depend on a two-way commitment to                    immigrant civic engagement, and shifts
               each other and an honest discussion of the           in the receiving society’s attitudes and
               challenges and opportunities ahead.                  strategies. We argue that this approach
                                                                    builds on fundamental American values
               We begin the document by providing a                 of mobility, democracy and openness. By
               landscape of the immigrant populations               returning to these core values with new
               in Los Angeles County, especially the                approaches we can take the venom out of
               diversity and changing nature of the                 the current discussion of immigration and
               populations. The data also tends to                  create new opportunities to build upon
               highlight key challenges, including                  our mutual interest in a greater county,
               issues of English language acquisition,              state, and country.
               the inability to translate home country
               educational credentials into host country

                                                    -      14   -
Immigrant Integration
The State of Immigrant Los Angeles

    “Immigrants have a                                       quality of life for immigrants and
    tremendous belief in America                             their families is improving.
    and the opportunities it                                 Intentionality: Immigrant
    presents.”                                               integration requires an intentional
    – Business Focus Group                                   process that incorporates the needs
    Participant                                              of immigrant populations into
                                                             policies governing our cities, regions
  Immigrant integration is an important
                                                             and states. While there is a view
  but sometimes elusive concept.
                                                             that immigrants assimilated “all on
  Traditionally, immigrant integration has
                                                             their own” in an earlier era, in fact
  referred to a multi-generational process
                                                             institutions like unions and
  of assimilation where individuals blend
                                                             settlement houses provided
  into mainstream culture, forgo much of
                                                             significant assistance. With such
  their own cultural and ethnic identity,
                                                             institutions waning, we need new
  and advance economically and socially
                                                             intentional efforts and institutions
  over time. But the increasingly
                                                             to support them.
  globalized world keeps connections with
  home countries fresh and host countries                    Transformation: Immigrant integra-
  value the ability to navigate various                      tion is a dynamic two-way process in
  languages and cultures. Thus, the simple                   which newcomers and
  notion of integration as assimilation                      the receiving society are both
  needs to be nuanced.                                       transformed as they work together
                                                             to build secure, vibrant, and cohesive
  To frame this paper, we suggest a                          communities. It requires
  working definition with the following                      immigrants to transform themselves
  three key elements:                                        as they adapt to local civic culture;
                                                             which in turn indicates the need for
     Measurability: Immigrant                                non-immigrants to feel comfortable
     integration can de defined as                           with how their community is
     improved economic mobility for,                         changing and necessitates a new
     enhanced civic participation by,                        frame that stresses mutual benefit,
     and receiving society openness to                       not homogenization.
     immigrants. Progress around
                                                          Dowell Myers in his book, Boomers and
     immigrant integration can and
                                                          Immigrants, examines the mutual benefit
     should be measured with
                                                          argument for California. He argues
     benchmarks and indicators that
                                                          that aging baby boomers’ incipient
     include economic, civic, and
                                                          demands on retirement and healthcare
     social dimensions of how the

                                             -   15   -
                                                                                                  Immigrant Integration
   The Little Hoover Commission
                                                                           systems is a bigger issue for America
   The need and importance of immigrant integration policies               than the cultural changes brought by
   has been widely recognized. In 2002 the Little Hoover                   new arrivals. We will actually need
   Commission wrote a report recommending policies affecting               more immigrants and for settled
   immigrants to be linked to community priorities so as to                immigrants to do well economically
   accelerate the transition from newcomer to responsible                  and socially in order to pay taxes,
   community member. Their three recommendations for                       contribute to health insurance, and
   California were:                                                        buy the houses of retired boomers.
                                                                           He suggests a new “social compact.”
   California should establish goals for immigrant integration
                                                                           Reframing immigration as helpful to
   and create incentives for immigrants to fully participate in
                                                                           our future was echoed in the focus
   their communities.
                                                                           groups we discuss below.
      Establish the Golden State Residency Program to
                                                                           The mutual benefit argument may be
      encourage immigrants to establish residency and
                                                                           especially strong in Los Angeles. As
      become citizens.
                                                                           noted earlier, one in three residents
      Develop a public awareness campaign on the rights and                and nearly half the workforce is
      responsibilities of immigrants.                                      foreign-born — and the latter
   California must prudently invest in immigrants who make a               percentage will continue to climb as
   commitment to become citizens.                                          the existing population ages. This
                                                                           data reflects a fairly settled national
      Align public policy with community goals through                     immigrant population. However, in
      the Golden State Residency Program.                                  gateway regions like major cities in
                                                                           the American South and Los Angeles,
      Ensure that state programs effectively support
                                                                           new immigrants will swell the
      community goals.
                                                                           population. Within the County,
      Create the California Commission on Immigrants to                    while 64 percent of all children are
      create dialogue, and advocacy for effective programs.                those of immigrants, nearly 90
   California should advocate for federal reforms that link                percent are also U.S. citizens. As they
   immigration policies to community goals, create incentives              age, their incomes will be supporting
   for immigrants to be responsible community members and                  baby boomers and their immigrant
   encourage immigrants to work toward citizenship.                        parents.

      Advocate for immigration reform, naturalization reform,              In short, both the data and multiple
      federal support of community priorities, and more efficient          sectors recognize that immigrants
      and effective immigration and naturalization services.               are critical to the region and are
                                                                           here to stay. From immigrant rights
     Source: Little Hoover Commission, “We the People: Helping             activists to business leaders, everyone
     Newcomers Become Californians,” Report #166, ( June 2002).

                                                          -       16   -
Immigrant Integration
agrees that immigrants are integral to                                                    years. In 1980, the highest
the success of Los Angeles County.                                                        concentrations – over 50 percent of the
Another point of consensus was that                                                       people residing in each census tract were
immigrants in the region are extremely                                                    foreign-born – were limited to
diverse by country of origin, language,                                                   MacArthur Park/Pico Union, East Los
and family documentation status. Thus,                                                    Angeles and Huntington Park. Of the
we need to move away from a                                                               remaining County, many areas had
one-size-fits-all strategy and towards                                                    concentrations of 10-35 percent
more comprehensive, holistic                                                              foreign-born. The dispersal has always
initiatives – but to do this, we need                                                     been great but over time more of the
to understand the complexity of the                                                       County has become home to
immigrant landscape in Los Angeles                                                        immigrants and at increasing
County.                                                                                   concentrations throughout. Map 1
                                                                                          provides a picture of the foreign-born
                                                                                          population’s settlement patterns from
The Geography of Immigration in                                                          1980 and 2000, with the darker the
Los Angeles County                                                                       color representing higher percentages of
Where do these diverse foreign-born                                                       foreign-born residents.
populations live in Los Angeles?
Data from the U.S. Census shows                                                           In 2000 (Map 1b), we find an increased
that immigrants have been dispersed                                                       and slightly more dispersed foreign-born
throughout the County over the last 20                                                    population. Historic immigrant enclaves

 Map 1. Foreign-born Population by Census Tract in Los Angeles County.

 a. 1980                                                                                    b. 2000

  Percent Foreign Born                                                                       Percent Foreign Born
  by Census Tract, 1980                                                                      by Census Tract, 2000
        Less than 10%                                                                            Less than 10%
        10% - 25%                                                                                10% - 25%
                        Pacific Ocean                                                                            Pacific Ocean
        25% to 35%                                                                               25% to 35%
        35% - 50%                                                                                35% - 50%
        Over 50%                                                                                 Over 50%

 Source: PERE analysis of the Census Tiger/Line Files, 1980 Census and Census 2000.

                                                                     -      17        -
                                                                                                                                 Immigrant Integration
               remain as before, namely MacArthur                        We use PUMA geography to look at
               Park/Pico Union and East Los Angeles;                     the immigrant population broken down
               however, concentrations are rising in the                 by how recently they migrated to the
               San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys.                     County. Maps 2a-d show the history
               It is notable that a significant number of                of immigrant settlement. For example,
               Los Angeles County census tracts fall into                in 2a we can see that MacArthur Park
               the second highest range of density, with                 and Huntington Park have the highest
               35-50 percent of the population being                     concentrations of newly arrived
               foreign-born.                                             immigrants, followed by Glendale,
                                                                         Hollywood, and Van Nuys. The former
               Maps 1a and 1b were created at the                        have over 20 percent foreign-born
               census tract level and draw on the                        populations and the latter have 14 to 20
               Decennial Census, in particular what                      percent foreign-born. Here, we consider
               are called “Summary Files,” from 1980                     migration in the last 10 years or less to
               and 2000. With immigrant presence                         be newly arrived immigrants. Those who
               rapidly changing, we derived most of                      migrated within the last 11 to 20 years
               our analysis from the 2005 and 2006                       (see Map 2b) are living in high
               American Community Survey (ACS).                          concentrations in these same areas but
               The annual ACS nationwide survey allows                   extend as well to San Gabriel and
               users to extract detailed information                     El Monte.
               regarding demographics, housing, social,
               and economic characteristics. ACS data                    Once migrants have settled (i.e., those
               provides a much more current description                  that migrated between 21 and 30 years
               of the County’s immigrant population                      ago depicted in Map 2c), the
               than the Decennial Census. However,                       concentration of immigrants living in
               given the degree of specificity that can                  the PUMAs decreases but the dispersal
               be drawn from this data source, the ACS                   increases. With the exception of San
               aggregates survey responses to a larger                   Gabriel Valley with a concentration of
               geographic entity called the Public Use                   14 to 20 percent immigrants, there is a
               Microdata Area (PUMA) to help avoid                       corridor of immigrants at a lower
               disclosing any identifying information                    concentration (8 to 14 percent) that
               about specific households and individuals.
               PUMAs contain a minimum population
                                                                           Technically, the summary version of the ACS
               of 100,000; and it is our unit of analysis                  draws on over two percent of the population;
               for the subsequent maps offered below.2                     however, the individual files made available to
                                                                           researchers only include one percent. Pooling
                    Note that we have also combined the 2005               two years increases the sample size and improves
                 and 2006 ACS (using appropriate weights from              the reliability of any set of estimates that we
                 each year) as a way of expanding the sample size.         offer.

                                                           -    18   -
Immigrant Integration
Map 2. Immigrant Settlement Patterns Based on Data of Migration Throughout Los Angeles.

a. 10 years or less                                                                                              b. 11-20 years

                       Santa Clarita                                                                                                  Santa Clarita

                              San Fernando                                                                                                  San Fernando

                        Los Angeles        Burbank                                                                                    Los Angeles        Burbank
                                                Glendale                                                                                                      Glendale
                                                        Pasadena                                                                                                      Pasadena

                                                             San Gabriel                                                                                                   San Gabriel
                                                                   El Monte                                                                                                      El Monte
                                                                                              Pomona                                                                                                       Pomona
                                                     East Los Angeles                                                                                             East Los Angeles
                                                                                 IndustryDiamond Bar                                                                                           IndustryDiamond Bar
                                                             Pico Rivera                                                                                                   Pico Rivera
                                              Huntington Park                                                                                               Huntington Park
 Percent of PUMA that                   Inglewood
                                                                      Whittier                                   Percent of PUMA that                 Inglewood

 Migrated 10 Years or                                      Downey                                                Migrated 11 to 20                                       Downey

 Less                                     GardenaCompton                                                         Years Ago                              GardenaCompton

        Less than 8%                                                                                                   Less than 8%
                                         Torrance Carson                                                                                               Torrance Carson
        8% - 14%        Pacific Ocean                                                                                  8% - 14%       Pacific Ocean

                                                       Long Beach                                                                                                    Long Beach
        14% - 20%                                                                                                      14% - 20%
        Over 20%                                                                                                       Over 20%

c. 21-30 years                                                                                                  d. Over 30 years

                       Santa Clarita                                                                                                  Santa Clarita

                             San Fernando                                                                                                   San Fernando

                       Los Angeles         Burbank                                                                                    Los Angeles        Burbank
                                                Glendale                                                                                                      Glendale
                                                        Pasadena                                                                                                      Pasadena

                                                             San Gabriel                                                                                                   San Gabriel
                                                                   El Monte                                                                                                      El Monte
                                                                                             Pomona                                                                                                        Pomona
                                                    East Los Angeles                                                                                              East Los Angeles
                                                                                 IndustryDiamond Bar                                                                                           IndustryDiamond Bar
                                                             Pico Rivera                                                                                                   Pico Rivera
                                              Huntington Park                                                                                               Huntington Park
 Percent of PUMA that                   Inglewood
                                                                      Whittier                                    Percent of PUMA that                Inglewood
                                                           Downey                                                                                                        Downey
 Migrated 21 to 30                                                                                                Migrated Over 30
 Years Ago                                GardenaCompton                                                          Years Ago                             GardenaCompton

        Less than 8%                                                                                                   Less than 8%
                                         Torrance Carson                                                                                               Torrance Carson
        8% - 14%        Pacific Ocean                                                                                  8% - 14%       Pacific Ocean

                                                       Long Beach                                                                                                    Long Beach
        14% - 20%                                                                                                      14% - 20%

        Over 20%                                                                                                       Over 20%

Source: PERE analysis of the Census Tiger/Line Files and 2006 American Community Survey.

           extends diagonally through the center                                                                South Los Angeles, Inglewood, and
           of the region: from the North Valley                                                                 Huntington Park and over to Downey,
           through the San Fernando Valley,                                                                     Lakewood and Long Beach. For
           Hollywood, Central City, and the                                                                     immigrants that came to Los Angeles
           San Gabriel Valley and south through                                                                 over 30 years ago (see Map 2d), we see

                                                                                             -         19   -
                                                                                                                                                                                     Immigrant Integration
                  the highest concentrations other than                                                         School system data strongly demonstrates
                  San Fernando starting only as West as                                                         this transformation. Below, we show the
                  downtown and extending through East                                                           percentages of African American and
                  Los Angeles to Whittier, San Gabriel                                                          Latino students attending seven South
                  and down to Downey, Paramount, and                                                            Central high schools. The first part of
                  Norwalk and hopping over to Carson and                                                        Figure 1 shows the percentages from the
                  San Pedro.                                                                                    1981-1982 school year and the second
                                                                                                                part is from the 2004-2005 school year.
                  This influx and settlement of foreign-born                                                    The differently shaded areas represent
                  populations has increasingly changed the                                                      African American and Latino students,
                  ethnic distribution of historic enclaves.                                                     respectively.
                  For example, while South Los Angeles is
                  the historic heart of Black Los Angeles, it                                                   Among the most dramatic of the changes,
                  is now mainly Latino. The set of census                                                       the data shows that in 1981 Locke High
                  tracts in South Central, for example, went                                                    School was 98 percent African
                  from being 76 percent African American                                                        American and 2 percent Latino, while
                  and 20 percent Latino in 1980 to being 39                                                     during the 2004 school year its
                  percent African American and 58 percent                                                       composition was 37 percent African
                  Latino in 2000 – and the demographic                                                          American and 63 percent Latino. Similar
                  transformation has continued over the last                                                    changes can be seen at the other South
                  six years since the Census.                                                                   Los Angeles High Schools on the graph

        Figure 1. African American and Latino Students at South Central Los Angeles Schools.

                 1%            2%           1%                    2%            1%       7%                                 1%           1%
                         7%                       10%

                                                                          31%                             30%
                                      42%                                                                             44%

                                                                                                                                               80%                80%
           99%                                              98%
                         91%                      90%                                    93%
                                                                          68%                             70%                                                        Latino
                                      57%                                                                                                                            African American
                                                                            Latino                                                                     37%
                                                                            African American
                                                                                                                                               20%                20%

         Crenshaw     Washington    Jefferson    Jordan    Locke       Manual Arts   Fremont            Crenshaw   Washington    Jefferson    Jordan   Locke   Manual Arts   Fremont
                        Prep                                                                                         Prep

         a. 1981-1982 school year                                                                       b. 2004-2005 school year
        Source: California Department of Education’s California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) 1981-2005.

                                                                                     -         20   -
Immigrant Integration
   Figure 2. Racial/Ethnic/National Origin Hate Crimes 1991-2006 in Los Angeles







             1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
               Total National Origin/Ethnicity Hate Crimes                            Total White and Black Hate Crimes

   Source: PERE analysis of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commissions Hate Crime Report.

Residents of these historic enclaves and                                             and slow and inexorable demographic
immigrant communities find themselves                                                changes. This is particularly worrisome
in tension over these demographic                                                    given the harsh tenor of the recent
transformations. Figure 2 demonstrates                                               debates about immigration and the high
some of this tension as it manifests itself                                          likelihood of economic slowdown that
through hate crimes as reported by the                                               looms over the County and the country.
Los Angeles County Human Relations                                                   In addition, it highlights the important
Commission. However, the graph                                                       need for local governments across public
suggests that the correlation between                                                sectors to take on the responsibility of
hate crimes and economic or societal                                                 immigrant integration. Resolution of
stresses (the recessions of the early                                                these tensions will only happen with a
1990s and early 2000s, and the polarized                                             deliberate, concerted effort from
debate over Proposition 209 and                                                      municipal government, school districts
Affirmative Action in 1996) seems                                                    and other civic and community
stronger than that between hate crimes                                               leadership working together.

                                                                -      21        -
                                                                                                                           Immigrant Integration
                The Diversity of Immigrants in Los                                              shows that Mexican immigrants made
                Angeles County                                                                  up only 36.3 percent of immigrants who
                   “There are companies that                                                     migrated in the last ten years or less.
                   are going to need a local                                                     Further, the number of immigrants from
                   workforce and are going to be                                                 Western Europe and other Latin
                   invested in the issue.”                                                       American countries has decreased. In that
                   – Business Group Participant                                                  same cohort, immigrants from China, the
                                                                                                 Philippines, Guatemala, Korea, Armenia
                Popular misperceptions plague the debate                                         and South Asia have comprised a larger
                around immigration. Top on the list                                              share than before. Understanding the
                is that “immigrant” means Mexican.                                               full impacts of this diversity – and not
                Although Mexicans do comprise the                                                just designing programs that will serve
                largest share of foreign-born in the area,                                       Spanish speakers – is a major challenge
                the relative presence of Mexican                                                 for service providers, city planners, and
                immigrants has been decreasing.                                                  others.
                Mexicans comprised 44.6 percent of
                immigrants that migrated to the United                                           Business leaders recognize and the data
                States over 30 years ago. Figure 3 below                                         supports that immigrants come to Los

            Figure 3. Foreign-born Population that Migrated Within the Last 10 Years or Less in
            Los Angeles County.

                                               Salvadoran, 4.8%
                Guatemalan, 5.3%
                                                                      Armenian, 3.4%
             Korean, 6.0%
           Chinese 7.1%
           Chinese, 7.1%                                                      Other, 3.3%
                                                                               European, 2.7%                    Japanese, 2.1%
                                                                                 Asian Indian,
                                                                                      2.5%                       Other Asian, 1.9%

                Filipino, 7.1%                                                                                   African, 1.6%
                                                                                                                 Iranian, 1.4%
                Other Latin                                        Other, 14.0%
                                                                                                                 Other Eastern European, 1.4%
               American, 9.5%
                                                                                                                 Vietnamese, 1.2%
                                                                                                                 Other Middle Eastern, 1.3%
                                                                                                                 Russian, 1.2%
                                                                                                                 Taiwanese, 1.0%
                                                                                                                 South Asian, 0.9%
                                        Mexican, 36.3%

             Source: PERE analysis of the 2005 - 2006 American Community Survey.

                                                                              -    22    -
Immigrant Integration
    Figure 4. Age and Migration in Los Angeles County.




Percent of age category



                                                                                                                            Migrated 10 years or less
                          30%                                                                                               Migrated 11 to 20 years ago

                                                                                                                            Migrated 21 to 30 years ago
                                                                                                                            Long-term immigrant

                          10%                                                                                               US-born


















                                                                                            Age Categories
           Source: PERE analysis of 2005 - 2006 American Community Survey.

Angeles County to find employment.                                                                       that is working, living, and spending
Figure 4 shows a large proportion of the                                                                 throughout the region. Their
working age population is foreign-born.                                                                  contribution to the local economy is
In fact, between the ages of 30 and 44                                                                   vital, especially in terms of their labor;
across all categories, more than half of                                                                 without them, jobs would go begging.
the population of Los Angeles County                                                                     This is a major reason why business has
is foreign-born; between 45 and 54, it                                                                   stepped up its advocacy efforts.
is exactly half. In the younger working
age categories (between the ages of 20
and 29), natives dominate but this is also                                                               Immigrant Work and Income in
where we find the highest concentration                                                                  Los Angeles County
of the most recent migrants. In any case,                                                                Nearly 46 percent of the Los Angeles
immigrants are a significant segment of                                                                  County workforce is foreign-born, partly
the general population of Los Angeles                                                                    reflecting the highest concentration in

                                                                                    -       23       -
                                                                                                                                                                              Immigrant Integration
                         Figure 5. Labor Force Participation Rates in Los Angeles County
                         by Immigration and Gender.
                                                                                                  Long-term immigrant
                                                                                                  Migrated 21 to 30 years ago
                          100%                                                                    Migrated 11 to 20 years ago
                                                                                                  Migrated 10 years or less









                                                        Males                                              Females

                            Source: PERE analysis of the 2005 - 2006 American Community Survey.

            the working age categories. However, it is                                       Asian U.S.-born males on the one hand
            not just age but engagement. Labor force                                         and African American males on the other
            participation rates, meaning the percent                                         all have lower labor force participation, 90
            of individuals who have either secured                                           percent and 76 percent, respectively.
            employment or are actively looking for
            work, also varies by immigration and                                             Female immigrants exhibit lower rates
            gender. Figure 5 shows that U.S.-born                                            of labor force participation than do their
            males tend to attach to the labor force less                                     U.S.-born counterparts. However, such
            strongly than immigrant males, and that                                          labor force participation rates rise with
            such attachment to labor market                                                  time in the country which is striking
            participation generally increases with the                                       because there is also a higher likelihood
            recency of migration. To the contrary,                                           that female immigrants will have children.
            immigrant females have lower rates and                                           Compared with the same group of
            these fall with recency, perhaps reflecting                                      immigrant women, around 60 percent of
            increasing family responsibility.                                                U.S.-born women have their own children
            Combining age with race and ethnicity,                                           living with them, while the figure for
            Latino immigrant males between the                                               longer-term immigrants as well as those
            ages of 25 and 54 have a 92 percent rate                                         who migrated 11 to 20 years ago and 21
            of labor force participation. White and                                          to 30 years ago, hovers around 80 percent.

                                                                     -     24         -
Immigrant Integration
The rate of having children does fall to
                                                     How Immigrants Affect California Employment and Wages
around 70 percent for the most recent
migrants, likely reflecting the fact that            In the February 2007 edition of the Public Policy Institute of
they have not yet formed families. Still,            California’s (PPIC) California Counts publication, Giovanni
this is more than 10 percentage points               Peri conducted an analysis of how immigrants impacted
higher than the rate for U.S.-born                   employment and wages in California between 1960 and 2004.
females of a similar age.
                                                     Three of the report’s key findings include:
For these most recent female migrants,
there may also be a tendency to                      1. Immigrants did not adversely impact employment
understate labor force participation as                 opportunities for their U.S.-born counterparts with similar
they may be in the informal economy.                    levels of educational attainment and work experience.
According to a study by the Economic                    Peri’s regression analysis of the relationship between the
Roundtable on LA County’s informal                      net employment inflows of immigrants and U.S.-born did
economy labor force, immigrant women                    not find a significant correlation between immigration and
are more commonly employed as                           the displacement of U.S.-born workers in California.
informal workers.3 Non-citizen                       2. During 1990-2004, immigration increased wages for
immigrant women are the most likely                     the average U.S.-born worker by four percent. This
to work in private households, beauty                   positive increase is attributable to the complementary
salons, department stores and                           nature of the different occupations performed by the
employment service industries, where                    two groups. Since immigrants arrive with different
earnings range from $5,451 to $10,692.                  skills and education levels, they are less likely to be
Non-citizen immigrant men working                       in direct competition with U.S.-born workers.
in the informal economy tend to
                                                     3. Recent immigrants negatively impacted wages for
concentrate in landscaping services,
                                                        previous immigrants. This may be due to the fact
automotive repair and maintenance,
                                                        that the types of jobs recent immigrants will most
construction and truck transportation
                                                        likely compete for are those that have previously been
jobs, with earnings from $10,031 to
                                                        performed by other immigrant workers. Peri estimates
$23,189. Across all industries, men
                                                        that between 1990 and 2004, wages of immigrant
earn more than women. Many sectors
                                                        workers were 17 to 20 percent lower (approximately a
pay men nearly twice as much as female
                                                        1.4 percent loss per year) than they would have been had
counterparts. The study estimates that
                                                        it not been for the arrival of new immigrant workers.
on a typical day in 2004, there were

                                                         Source: Giovanni Peri, “How Immigrants Affect Californa Employment
     Daniel Flaming, Brent Haydamack, and                and Wages,” California Counts: Population Trends and Profiles, vol. 8, no. 3,
  Pascale Joassart, Hopeful Workers, Marginal            (February 2007).
  Jobs: LA’s Off-the-Books Labor Force, (Los
  Angeles: Economic Roundtable, 2005).

                                                -   25     -
                                                                                                              Immigrant Integration
           Figure 6. Percent of College-Educated Workers in Unskilled Occupations in California.

                                                                                              Long-term immigrants (arrived prior to 1996)
                                                                               43%            Recent immigrants (arrived in 1996 or later)
                                                                                              US born


                                                                                                                      22% 22%

                                                    15% 14%

                        US born                        Europe*          Latin America            Asia                   Africa

             * Refers to persons from Europe, Canada and Oceania.

             Source: Migration Policy Institute.

               approximately 679,000 informal workers                                   Forty percent of the immigrant workforce
               in LA County. This sizeable workforce                                    lacks a high school degree and one-third
               highlights unique challenges in designing                                are Limited English Proficient.5 The
               workforce development and immigrant                                      occupational groups with the highest
               integration strategies; if one really wishes                             percentages of foreign-born workers are
               to take advancement seriously, one must                                  Production (76%), Building and Grounds
               devise an approach that includes support                                 Cleaning and Maintenance (75%),
               and advancement opportunities for those                                  Construction Trades (63%),
               in the unregulated sectors.4                                             Transportation and Material Moving
                                                                                        (55%), Food Preparation and Service
               Despite the high degree of labor market
               attachment described above, low                                            5
                                                                                              Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework
               educational attainment results in low                                      for Developing an Immigrant Integration Strategy
                                                                                          for Los Angeles County, the National Center on
               economic outcomes for immigrants.
                                                                                          Immigrant Integration Policy, (Washington
                                                                                          DC: Migration Policy Institute, December
                          Ibid.                                                           2007, 26).

                                                                    -   26      -
Immigrant Integration
            Figure 7. Median Household Income in Los Angeles County.

              $67,596                                                    $66,913

                                                      $50,310                                        $51,618

                                  $37,229                                                $36,726

                  White           Black               Latino              Asian /        Latino      Asian /
                                                                          Pacific                    Pacific
                                                                         Islander                   Islander

                                            US Born                                           Immigrant

            Source: PERE analysis of 2005 - 2006 American Community Survey.

(55%), and Personal Care and Service                                              low-wage sectors results in lower levels
(53%).                                                                            of household income. Figure 7 shows
                                                                                  the patterns of median household
This concentration in low-paying                                                  income in Los Angeles County by race,
occupations results from the lower skills                                         ethnicity and immigration. U.S.-born
of many recent immigrants but it also                                             whites and Asians have the highest (and
reflects employers’ unwillingness to                                              nearly equivalent) household incomes;
accept credentials and experience from                                            U.S.-born Latinos and immigrant
abroad. For example, in California,                                               Asians have the next highest (and also
43 percent of recent Latin American                                               nearly equivalent) levels of household
immigrants and 23 percent of Asian                                                income; and African American and
immigrants who are college-educated                                               Latino immigrant households find
are working in unskilled occupations                                              themselves at a nearly identical position
(see Figure 6).6                                                                  at the bottom. This income pattern
                                                                                  suggests three things. First, something
Lower levels of education, issues with
                                                                                  could and should be done to translate
credentialing, and placement in
                                                                                  immigrant assets, like high labor force
                                                                                  attachment and international
      Ibid, 25.                                                                   credentials to better economic outcomes.

                                                               -     27       -
                                                                                                                        Immigrant Integration
               Part of the problem is a skills gap issue as              English and Immigrant Integration
               even many minimum wage, entry-level                       in Los Angeles County
               jobs require a higher skill level such                    Of the many reasons for low incomes,
               as computer literacy in a time where                      limited English speaking capacity of
               immigrants continue to be less likely to                  immigrants may be the most easily
               have access to a computer than those                      addressed. Controlling for ethnicity,
               who are native born.7 It will be essential                work experience, immigration status, and
               for the health of our economy and the                     proximity to employment, research on
               region in general, that this skills gap gets              Los Angeles has shown that the ability to
               closed and that programs are in place that                speak English can raise wages by fifteen
               can effectively prepare these populations                 to twenty percent.9 Unfortunately, in Los
               for the skills needed in the workplace.                   Angeles, nearly 50 percent of workers in
               Second, the data explains one of the bases                the top two occupational groups,
               for tension between African Americans                     Production and Building and Grounds
               and Latinos. Blacks are persistently                      Cleaning and Maintenance are not
               last-place in both labor force                            English proficient. English training
               participation and income, and sometimes                   would be useful because it would
               see themselves in competition with new                    eliminate wage penalties, help family
               immigrants. While the evidence is scant                   well-being and meet the expressed needs
               that such competition can explain the                     of employers. Further, it would promote
               stagnation in African American incomes,                   civic engagement and help reduce some
               it is our view that a successful integration              social tensions caused by language
               strategy must include a renewed                           differences.
               commitment to Black economic and
               social progress.8                                         Programs and policies that are created to
                                                                         address English language needs should
                    See Robert W. Fairlie, Rebecca A. London,            acknowledge the diversity of language in
                 Rachel Rosner, and Manuel Pastor, Crossing the          the immigrant population in Los Angeles
                 Divide: Immigrant Youth and Digital Disparity in        County. The Census uses a term called
                 California, (Santa Cruz, CA: Center for Justice,
                 Tolerance, and Community, September, 2006)
                       Shulman and Robert Smith, Immigration and
                    For a review of the evidence, see                      African Americans, in “African Americans in the
                 “Immigrants, Skills and Wages: Measuring                  American Economy,” edited by Cecilia Conrad,
                 the Economic Gains from Immigration,” IPC                 John Whitehead, Patrick Mason, and James
                 IN FOCUS, Vol. 5, Issue 3,(Washington, DC:                Stewart. (NY: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).
                 the American Immigration Law Foundation’s                 9
                                                                              See Manuel Pastor and Enrico Marcelli,
                 Immigration Policy Center, March 2006). For               “Men N The Hood: Spatial, Skill, and Social
                 a more pessimistic perspective on the effects             Mismatch for Male Workers in Los Angeles,”
                 on Black economic outcomes, see Steven                    Urban Geography, vol. 21, no. 6, (2000).

                                                           -    28   -
Immigrant Integration
      Map 3. K-12 English Language Learners in Los Angeles County.

        Percent of English
        Language Learner
        Students by School
                 Less than 13%
                 13% - 30%                 Pacific Ocean

                 30% - 50%
                 Over 50%

      Source: PERE analysis of the Census Files Tiger/Line Files and California Department of Education.

“linguistically isolated households” to                                                  San Gabriel and Diamond Bar; Korean-
describe families in which no one above                                                  speaking in Koreatown and Cerritos;
the age of 14 speaks English “very well.”                                                and Armenian-speaking in the Burbank
Contrary to popular belief, linguistically                                               and Glendale area.
isolated households are only about
two-thirds exclusively Spanish-speaking                                                  Children of immigrants are also
and the rest are a mix of mainly                                                         challenged by limited English abilities.
Chinese, Korean, and Armenian                                                            Map 3 shows schools in Los Angeles
languages with a smattering of other                                                     County, with breaks drawn to indicate
languages. Geographically, linguistically                                                the school-level percentage of English
isolated households are distributed as                                                   Language Learners (ELLs). The larger
such: Spanish-speaking throughout the                                                    and darker the circle, the higher the
region, Chinese-speaking dominating in                                                   percentage of ELLs at a particular
                                                                                         school. The map suggests that English

                                                                   -      29         -
                                                                                                                                Immigrant Integration
               learners are ubiquitous throughout the                    ACS. Because of the constraints of their
               County and are not only limited to the                    method, we are only able to guess at the
               traditional areas of high immigrant                       number of undocumented Latin
               concentrations that were described earlier.               American adult immigrants. We want
               The majority of ELL students are actually                 to stress that this does not exhaust the
               native-born. In fact, in California, 79                   population of the unauthorized.
               percent of ELLs in Kindergarten through                   According to an Urban Institute report
               5th grade are native-born, in contrast to                 prepared for the Rosenberg Foundation,
               21 percent foreign-born (and of those                     only 59 percent of the unauthorized
               foreign-born children, 47 percent have                    immigrants in Los Angeles County were
               recently arrived to the State).10                         Mexican-origin.12 Our own estimates
                                                                         suggest that another 20 percent are from
                                                                         other Latin American countries and the
               Living in the Shadows in                                  remainder are from the rest of the world.
               Los Angeles County
               Most students are children of immigrants                  In any case, it turns out that 16 percent of
               living in households with family members                  children (under the age of 18) are living in
               of mixed status: undocumented, legal                      households in which either the
               resident or naturalized citizen. To                       householder or his/her spouse is an
               estimate the numbers of mixed status                      undocumented immigrant from Latin
               households in Los Angeles, we utilized a                  America. Of these children, fully 80
               technique originally developed by Enrico                  percent are themselves U.S.-born and
               Marcelli of San Diego State University                    thus U.S. citizens. Assuming that
               and David Heer of USC. The method
               relies on state-of-the-art random surveys                   approach, see Enrico Marcelli and B. Lindsay
               that are personally administered by                         Lowell, “Transnational Twist: Pecuniary
                                                                           Remittances and Socioeconomic Integration
               co-ethnics in order to collect information
                                                                           among Authorized and Unauthorized
               on which variables are most highly                          Mexican Immigrants in Los Angeles County,”
               associated with being an unauthorized                       International Migration Review,39(1): 69-102,
               immigrant. These are transformed into                       (2005).
                                                                               See Karina Fortuny, Randy Capps,
               an estimating equation (provided by Dr.
                                                                           and Jeffrey S. Passel, The Characteristics of
               Marcelli)11 which is then applied to the                    Unauthorized Immigrants in California,
                                                                           Los Angeles County, and the United States,
                     Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework            (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, March
                 for Developing an Immigrant Integration Strategy          2007). We also checked our estimating process
                 for Los Angeles County, the National Center on            against Fortuny, et al. and found that we had
                 Immigrant Integration Policy, (Washington                 nearly identical estimates for the number of
                 DC: Migration Policy Institute, December                  undocumented Mexican-born adults (after
                 2007).                                                    adjusting, as they do, for the likely Census
                     For a recent description of the estimating            undercount).

                                                           -    30   -
Immigrant Integration
            Figure 8: Lack of Health Insurance by Ethnicity for Households
            in Los Angeles County.





                     White               Black               Latino          Asian/Pacific      Latino         Asian/Pacific
                                                                               Islander                          Islander
                                                  US Born                                                Immigrant

            Source: PERE analysis of the 2003 - 2007 Current Population Survey.

similar patterns characterize non-Latin                                               of health insurance. As can be seen in
American immigrants but perhaps                                                       Figure 8, this is an issue that confronts
not as much, a conservative estimate                                                  many groups, but is particularly acute
suggests that fully 15 percent of Los                                                 in immigrant Latino, immigrant Asian,
Angeles children are living with at                                                   and African American communities.
least one parent who is facing issues                                                 Over half of immigrant Latino
regarding their immigration status in the                                             households do not have health
country.13                                                                            insurance.

                                                                                      The lack of insurance contributes to a
Immigrants and the Health Care                                                        lack of regular access to preventative
Challenge                                                                             medicine. In Los Angeles, those who
One of the basic issues facing any family                                             are undocumented or work in the
in the United States is access to health                                              informal labor market have relied on
care, and a primary barrier is the lack                                               county medical facilities to provide
                                                                                      urgent or emergency care. To mitigate
                                                                                      emergency room flooding, the County
      In addition, over 20 percent of Los
                                                                                      funds preventative care through a
  Angeles children are living with at least
  one undocumented resident sharing their                                             network of public-private partnership
  household.                                                                          (PPP) community clinics. The

                                                               -      31          -
                                                                                                                               Immigrant Integration
               restructuring effort began in the                           different sites throughout L.A. County.16
               mid-1990s, in the face of a looming $655                    In that same year, 66 percent of patients
               million budget deficit crisis. From                         at PPP facilities were Latino and the
               1995-2005, the county received Federal                      assumption is that a high proportion of
               funds to help restructure and stabilize its                 these individuals were immigrant.17 In
               public health system. This funding came                     short, PPPs are an important part of the
               from a Medicaid demonstration waiver                        immigrant health care system.
               that prioritized primary and outpatient
               care.14 When the program ended in 2005,                     Yet there are challenges to the
               there was some uncertainty about the                        sustainability of community clinics,
               future of the partnership, but a                            including the rising number of
               collaboration between clinics,                              care-seekers and the corresponding
               community organizations, and the Los                        growth in the amount of uncompensated
               Angeles County Department of Health                         care.18 This is in the context of higher
               Services, ensured that the PPP program                      need, partly because of the changing
               has continued thus far.                                     health care landscape of Los Angeles. By
                                                                           some figures the number of uninsured
               Such PPP clinics are crucial because                        patients has doubled since 1995.19
               they serve patients who are not covered                     Starting in 2004, the very public closures
               by private insurance or government                          of trauma and emergency services at King
               programs, and whose income is below 133                     Drew Medical Center (more recently
               percent of the Federal Poverty Level.15                     known as King-Harbor) led to the
               This turns out to be a substantial                          eventual closure of the full-service hospital
               population. In 2004, such clinics cared                     due to a handful of major patient care
               for about 1.3 million people at over 100                    failures.20 This closure combined with

                                                                                 Tom Garthwaite “A Success Story for LA
                     See “Los Angeles County 1115 Medicaid                   Healthcare,” Los Angeles Business Journal, (July
                 Demonstration Waiver Project,” http://www.                  18, 2005).
                                                                                 “Strength in Numbers: 2005 Annual
                 MWDL/itemdetail.asp?filterType=dual,%20d                    Report” Community Clinic Association of Los
                 ata&filterValue=California&filterByDID=2&                   Angeles County,
                 sortByDID=2&sortOrder=ascending&itemI                       18
                 D=CMS028174&intNumPerPage=10/. Since                        19
                                                                                 Tom Garthwaite “A Success Story for LA
                 this project has ended, many of the county and              Healthcare,” Los Angeles Business Journal, (July
                 statewide webpages are being updated and                    18, 2005).
                 specific URLs may change.                                   20
                                                                                 Jack Leanord “King Harbor Inspection
                     “Strength in Numbers: 2005 Annual                       Report Released” Los Angeles Times, (August 14,
                 Report” Community Clinic Association of Los                 2007),
                 Angeles County,                             me-king14aug14,1,3849288.story.

                                                          -       32   -
Immigrant Integration
recent reports of deficiencies at both                          Reflecting the tendency to see lower
the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center                              rewards for their effort, the immigrant
in Sylmar and the Harbor-UCLA                                   share of total income is less but we
Medical Center due to overcrowding,21                           estimate that immigrant spending power
shows how low-income residents are                              represents nearly 36 percent of the
consistently losing quality care. In other                      region’s total.23
words, although the PPP program has
been successful at providing preventative                       Because immigrants make up nearly
care to many, the increasing population                         half of the workforce in Los Angeles,
of the uninsured, combined with the                             they are integral to the maintenance and
reduction of services in low-income                             growth of local business enterprises and
communities jeopardizes immigrant                               the economy. If they were to disappear,
health and consequently family well-                            our economic outputs would be
being and long-term economic progress.                          crippled. In fact, recent examples of
                                                                such an impact can be seen in Postville,
                                                                Iowa where the nation’s largest supplier
Immigrants Progress Over Time                                   of Kosher Beef, Agriprocessors, was
Immigrant misconceptions abound                                 raided by Immigration and Customs
especially regarding immigrant                                  Enforcement (ICE) and 50 percent
contributions to the economy and                                of the workforce was detained.24 The
immigrant progress over time. For                               implications were enormous as instantly
example, despite the fact that many                             10 percent of the community and their
recent immigrants are crowded into                              contribution to the local economy was
relatively low productivity economic
sectors, we estimate that immigrants                              Angeles and Orange Counties combined.
                                                                  We then computed the product per worker
contribute over 40 percent of our
                                                                  by industry, and multiplied that value by the
region’s total economic product.22                                number of immigrant and U.S.-born workers
                                                                  in each industry for Los Angeles County. As
      Ron Gong Lin II, “Harbor-UCLA                               a result, we were able to estimate the share of
  emergency room patients are in jeopardy, state                  the County’s total economic product that is
  inspectors say,” Los Angeles Times, (February                   attributable to immigrant workers.
  6, 2008).                                                       23
                                                                       Immigrant spending power was derived
      The immigrant contribution to our                           from the 2005-2006 ACS. We approximate
  region’s total economic product was estimated                   that LA County’s aggregate household
  using the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ 2005                     income is $2.24 billion, $79.8 million of
  GDP data for the Los Angeles-Long Beach-                        which is traceable to immigrant households.
  Santa Ana Metro area and our pooled 2005-                       24
                                                                       See Grant Shulte, Jennifer Jacobs, and
  2006 American Community Survey data set.                        Jared Strong, “Town of 2,273 Wonders: What
  Using the ACS, we first calculated the total                    Happens to Us Now?” Des Moines Register,
  number of workers in each industry for Los                      (May 14, 2008).

                                                   -   33   -
                                                                                                              Immigrant Integration
    Table 1. Home Ownership in Los Angeles County.

                                                                                                                      Migrated Migrated Migrated
         Percent Home Ownership by Group                           Percent Home Owners
                                                                                         Non-    Long-term             20-30    10-20    last 10
                                                                   by Immigration and
                                                                                       immigrant immigrant             years    years   years or
        US Born                                 54.2%              Race
                                                                                                                        ago      ago       less
        Long-term immigrant                     63.4%
                                                                   Non-Hispanic White           61.5%        72.0%      56.4%      40.5%      21.1%
        Migrated 20-30 years ago                49.7%
                                                                   Latino                       47.6%        57.6%      43.5%      24.6%       8.4%
        Migrated 10-20 years ago                31.7%
                                                                   Asian/Pacific Islander       57.6%        72.7%      59.4%      43.9%      20.9%
        Migrated last 10 years                  14.8%

    Source: PERE analysis of the 2005-2006 American Community Survey.

                     demolished. Similarly in Cactus, Texas,                                       While the incomes of the foreign-born
                     a Swift and Company meat-packing                                              population tend to be lower than their
                     company was raided and nearly 1,300                                           native-born counterparts, their sheer
                     workers were detained.25 Landlords were                                       numbers translates to a buying power that
                     faced with empty rental units with no                                         is a major contributor to our economic
                     potential replacements and storekeepers                                       health. This is true because they still need
                     have suffered from an immediate decrease                                      to buy food, other staple items, consumer
                     in customers.                                                                 goods and services in general. In the
                                                                                                   aggregate, they are akin to the “emerging
                     While it may appear that the impact was                                       markets” of developing countries and
                     strong only because these cases were in                                       have become the focal points for serious,
                     small towns where a high portion of the                                       significant financial investments.
                     workforce was removed, the effects may
                     be more diffuse than we think. In fact, it                                    Perhaps most important is that
                     is large enough to worry Jack Kyser from                                      immigrants are making economic progress
                     the L.A. County Economic Development                                          over time. That this is often not
                     Corporation, Gary Toebben, President of                                       recognized in the popular discussion
                     the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce,                                          stems from what Dowell Myers calls the
                     and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who                                           “Peter Pan fallacy”27 – having experienced
                     all came together this past May Day                                           a recent wave of immigration, the general
                     to denounce the recent ICE raids in                                           population often imagines that all
                     Los Angeles, emphasizing that tens of                                         immigrants are young workers who never
                     thousands of jobs and millions of dollars                                     age. In fact, many immigrants establish
                     in revenue could be lost if continued                                         roots in the area and play an integral role
                     raids force businesses to flee the state.26
                                                                                                        Bloomekatz, “May Day March Smaller, But
                             See Sylvia Moreno, “Immigration Raid                                       Festive,” Los Angeles Times, (May 2, 2008).
                         Leaves Texas Town a Skeleton,” Washington Post,                                27
                                                                                                            See Dowell Myers, Immigrants and Boomers:
                         (February 9, 2007).                                                            Forging a New Social Compact for the Future of
                            Teresa Watanabe, Anna Gorman, Ari B.                                        America. (New York: Russell Sage Press, 2007).

                                                                             -    34        -
Immigrant Integration
 Figure 9. Income and Recency of Migration in Los Angeles County.

             8.6%               11.1%
                                                    16.8%                18.7%

                                                                         20.2%                         Highest household income quintile (LA)
                                21.3%                                                                  Fourth household income quintile (LA)

                                                                                                       Middle household income quintile (LA)
                                                    23.4%                 20%
                                                                                                       Second household income quintile (LA)
            27.6%                                                                              19.1%

                                26.7%                                                                  Lowest household income quintile (LA)


                                                    18.3%                 21%

         Migrated 10       Migrated 11 to      Migrated 21 to           Long-term          US-born
         years or less     20 years ago        30 years ago             immigrant

  Source: PERE analysis of the 2005 - 2006 American Community Survey.

in shaping the regional economy and                                                     Foreign-born residents’ incomes tend to
society.                                                                                increase the longer they remain in the
                                                                                        area. Of those who migrated within the
One clear marker of this progression                                                    last 10 years or less, almost 31 percent
is home ownership. Home ownership                                                       are in the lowest household income
rates among immigrants increase the                                                     quintile, meaning their household
longer they remain in the country, even                                                 income was below $20,526 in 2005.
surpassing the rate of home ownership                                                   However, Figure 9 shows that nearly 40
among U.S.-born residents. For                                                          percent of long-term foreign-born
example, 63 percent of foreign-born                                                     households earn incomes in the fourth
residents who migrated over 30 years                                                    and fifth highest income quintiles as
ago own their own home. Only 55                                                         opposed to 23 percent of recent
percent of U.S.-born residents are home                                                 immigrants.28 Thus, while the
owners. While there are variations by                                                   U.S.-born still do better, immigrant
race, the lowest rates are among Latino                                                 income increases over time.
immigrants who nonetheless over the
long-term have homeownership rates
very close to those of U.S.-born whites                                                   28
                                                                                             This was derived by our analysis of the
(see Table 1).                                                                            2006 ACS data.

                                                                  -       35        -
                                                                                                                                                Immigrant Integration
                        Figure 10. Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Los Angeles County.


                                                                                                     US Born Self-Employed
                                                                                                     Immigrant Self-Employed




                                          White                                      Latino                Asian/Pacific Islander
                        Source: PERE Analysis of 2005 - 2006 American Community Survey.

               Looking at Figure 10, we see that                                              approximately one million unauthorized
               immigrants are more likely to be                                               immigrants – over twice the number of
               entrepreneurs than native-born residents.                                      any other US metro area – there has been
               Within both Latino and Asian/Pacific                                           an increase in naturalization rates. The
               Islander populations, there are twice as                                       share of the citizenry that is naturalized
               many self-employed immigrants as there                                         has increased from 9 to 16 percent
               are native-born populations. Six percent                                       between 1990 and 2005.29 We will
               of native-born Latinos are self-employed                                       probably see an even higher percentage
               as compared to 12 percent foreign-born                                         of increase since 2005, given the big push
               Latinos and similarly, 7 percent of                                            to naturalize that happened prior to a
               native-born Asian/Pacific Islanders are                                        significant increase in naturalization fees
               self-employed compared to 14 percent                                           in mid-2007.
               foreign-born. This presence of immigrant
               entrepreneurs represents an opportunity                                          29
                                                                                                    Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework
               for business growth.                                                             for Developing an Immigrant Integration Strategy
                                                                                                for Los Angeles County, the National Center on
               Progress is not simply on the economic                                           Immigrant Integration Policy, (Washington
               front. Although Los Angeles County has                                           DC: Migration Policy Institute, December
                                                                                                2007, 18).

                                                                     -      36        -
Immigrant Integration
Future Prospects for Immigrants in                         While Los Angeles remains, in large
Los Angeles County                                        part, a welcoming and open region,
With all this good news, why worry?                        the state and national debate has been
Because the past 20 years may not be                       marked by rising concerns about the
reflective of the next 20 years. First, the                negative effects of immigration. That
number of immigrants has increased.                        has ranged from generally unfounded
The foreign-born were about 23 percent                     fears that immigrants are swamping
of the population in 1980 but have                         social welfare systems to worries that
grown to 37 percent of the population.                     past patterns of assimilation will be
This increase has led to occupational                      impossible to reproduce in light of
crowding, competition and                                  the increased numbers. Whatever the
overwhelmed or disintegrating                              source or validity of these fears, the
integration institutions.                                  sentiments suggest social services that
                                                           aided immigrants in the past may be cut
Second, the economy has shifted. The                       off.
reward for less-skilled work has been on
the decline, health care remains                           However, one can see from the data
inaccessible for many, and neighborhood                    above, immigrants play an important,
concentrations of poverty has risen                        vital role in our society and they are
which affects job prospects, the                           here to stay and therefore need to be
environmental determinants of health                       incorporated into policy decisions in
disparities, and access to high-quality                    the region. Thus, successful immigrant
education. The days of struggling                          integration will require scaling-up to
through with limited English but high                      meet the enormity of the challenge:
hopes for your children’s proficiency and                  improving economic, educational, and
future may be over. Unless parents are                     civic supports to sustain pathways to
able to lift themselves out of working                     success, and shifting the regional and
poverty, secure health insurance, and see                  national dialogue to renew our
local schools improve, the next                            commitment to immigrant success.
generation will have limited options.                      These themes emerged in our focus
                                                           groups and we turn to them now.
Finally, our current civic atmosphere
does not seem to support immigrants.

                                              -   37   -
                                                                                                Immigrant Integration
  Learnings from the Community

                 “We want to produce a                            Mexico, Russia, Korea, South Asia,
                 societal overhaul.”                              as well as immigrant rights groups,
                 – Immigrant Rights Focus Group                   legal advocates, service providers,
                 Participant                                      and policy-focused organizations.
                                                                  A group of business and workforce
               The data above offered a nuanced and
                                                                  development leaders convened
               useful picture of foreign-born residents in
                                                                  on November 13, 2007 at the Los
               Los Angeles County. But data can only
                                                                  Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce,
               tell part of the story, revealing only what
                                                                  who co-hosted the event. Initially
               we can measure (or try to measure). Data
                                                                  we were hoping to attract at least
               lacks community knowledge that helps
                                                                  seven people, but in the end we
               us understand what the numbers mean in
                                                                  doubled that with 15 attendees.
               terms of daily lives and policy challenges.
                                                                  Participants came from banks,
               To enrich our understanding of what                chambers of commerce, economic
               issues need to be considered – and to seek         development organizations, education,
               to capture elusive concepts such as                and the food and toy industries.
               leadership, messaging, and                         A group of fifteen planning leaders
               organizing – we asked for the opinions             and members of local governmental
               and ideas of diverse groups of                     agencies convened on December 11,
               stakeholders. In doing this, we reached            2007 at the California Community
               out to both the usual and not-so-usual             Foundation. Participants came
               suspects, including both those accustomed          from the cities of Glendale, Los
               to dealing with immigrants and those               Angeles, Pomona, Pacoima, and
               for whom this was a relatively new issue           Riverside and represented agencies
               area. We conducted a series of individual          such as Planning Departments,
               interviews but our main data collection            the Los Angeles County Human
               mechanism was a series of focus groups             Relations Commission, Children’s
               with representatives from six sectors,             Planning Council, Los Angeles
               including:                                         Mayor’s Office, and planning
                                                                  related non-profit organizations.
                  A group of immigrant rights and
                                                                  A group of funders convened on
                  refugee-serving organizations
                                                                  January 16, 2008 at the California
                  who convened on November 6,
                                                                  Community Foundation, which
                  2007 at the California Community
                                                                  was co-hosted by Grantmakers
                  Foundation. Twenty-three people
                                                                  Concerned with Immigrants and
                  attended, representing immigrant
                                                                  Refugees. Eighteen funders from
                  communities from Central America,

                                                     -   38   -
Immigrant Integration
   throughout Southern and Northern                    reactions to the presentation in terms of
   California as well as Seattle,                      what they found striking and what they
   Washington were in attendance.                      thought was missing.
   A group of labor and community
                                                       In general, participants found the
   leaders convened on January 17,
                                                       information very useful and wanted
   2008 at the UCLA Downtown
                                                       more. We were able to incorporate
   Labor Center, who also co-hosted
                                                       some of their suggestions in subsequent
   the event. Twenty people attended
                                                       data development and presentations,
   representing organizers of day
                                                       but others were not possible within
   laborers and garment workers,
                                                       the timeframe and scope of this work.
   immigrant workers associations,
                                                       Some of the suggested additions that
   legal services, labor policy
                                                       we were unable to address that could
   organizations, ethnic labor
                                                       comprise a research program and/or
   alliances, and faith-based leaders.
                                                       make for a more effective popular
   A group of seven interethnic                        education curriculum include:
   community builders convened on
   February 12, 2008 at the California
   Community Foundation.                               Economic Research
   Participants came from community                       A more detailed estimate of
   organizations throughout Los                           economic contributions of
   Angeles, including Little Tokyo,                       immigrants to the general
   Chinatown, East Los Angeles,                           regional economy.
   and South Los Angeles.
                                                          A better breakdown of economic
Each meeting began with a PowerPoint                      participation in the formal and
presentation to contextualize the                         informal economy.
foreign-born population in Los Angeles
                                                          Participation in banking and
County. The presentation generally
included some of the data offered above
but also included a number of other                       Analysis of what may happen
dimensions of immigrant integration,                      to immigrant employment as
including more specific information on                    industrial restructuring continues.
language use, occupational breakdown,                     Impact of home foreclosures
income, English language needs, and                        on immigrants.
commuting patterns. The conversation
started with participants giving their

                                          -   39   -
                                                                                                Immigrant Integration
               Demographic Research                                   Other Research

                  More detailed out-migration trends                     Data on non-profits, non-profit
                  to Riverside and San Bernardino                        density, and social service delivery
                  Counties (to mirror the patterns we                    systems, both those currently
                  show for Los Angeles County).                          serving immigrants and those
                  Numbers and trends for                                 that might be in the future.
                  undocumented students.                              Participants were then asked to consider
                  More gender analysis, including                     a series of questions meant to highlight
                  family composition, analysis of                     current practices with regard to immigrant
                  the prospects of single-headed                      integration and to suggest new
                  households, and divides in health                   practices that should be pursued and
                  insurance, civic involvement and                    specific investment recommendations.
                  English language ability by gender.                 While the conversations were rich and
                                                                      complex, there was surprising consensus
                  Aggregation of data to the city                     on general themes to include in a
                  level for specific policy purposes.                 comprehensive initiative:
                  Comparative success rates of
                  students in school based on the jobs,                  Reframing the debate on
                  education, and income of parents.                      immigrant integration via a new
                                                                         communication strategy,
                  Voter registration across
                  generations of immigrants and                          Developing new forms of
                  educational attainment.                                collaboration and
                                                                         relationship-building between groups,
               Historic and Forecasting Research                         Investing in leadership development
                  A projection of immigrant                               for both immigrants and
                  political power in the future                           non-immigrant allies,
                  based on past trends.                                  Supporting advocacy to change
                  A historical timeline of immigration                   the nature of public policy,
                  trends and political/social receptivity.               Providing research to help with both
                  Specific instances of historical                       new frames and policy design,
                  displacement in industries                             Encouraging multi-generational
                  dominated by immigrants.                               education to improve economic
                  Future-casting of immigrants and how                   and social outcomes,
                  growth economies such as China will                    Investing in workforce development
                  impact immigrant communities here.                      to improve the economic

                                                        -    40   -
Immigrant Integration
   opportunities for low-skill and                      foundations that we stress below: as
   low-wage immigrants, and                             convenors for a new civic discussion
   Encouraging community                                about how to craft our common future.
   education and organizing to
   ensure that the importance of
                                                        1. Reframing the Debate
   immigrant integration permeates
   throughout all communities.                          Unfortunately, in the current political
                                                        environment, immigrants are often
Embedded throughout these specific
                                                        portrayed unfavorably and thus the issue
themes was a focus on enhancing civic
                                                        of immigration has a negative
participation, building new alliances,
                                                        connotation. The looming talk of
and stressing mutual gain across sectors
                                                        recession will only exacerbate the
and communities. There was also a
                                                        anti-immigrant sentiment. This
sense of a need to act simultaneously in
                                                        environment makes developing solid and
all the areas and a desire that
                                                        effective solutions difficult. However,
foundations be willing to make
                                                        stakeholders that we spoke with have
long-term investments.
                                                        challenged us to remember that this
                                                        country was built on immigrants who
We discuss the top 10 themes below,
                                                        have positively contributed over the last
and then synthesize them into a more
                                                        300 years. With this in mind, reframing
tractable set of three strategy areas
                                                        the debate came up repeatedly. Framing
in a subsequent section on
                                                        guides the tone of any debate. George
                                                        Lakoff argues that the recent
The top 10 go well beyond what funders                  immigration debate focuses on the
would wish to do – or really should                     problem of immigration rather than
do. Interestingly, while focus group                    looking deeper into the root issues
participants were asked to point to the                 driving people to migrate. Thus the tone
potential directions of philanthropic                   is negative from the start.30
investments, they took the opportunity
                                                        The media’s unflattering spin on
to list multiple areas, multiple
                                                        the immigration debate exacerbates
responsibilities, and multiple actors.
                                                        immigrant experiences in the region.
This speaks to the relative gap in the
                                                        Immigrants are often portrayed as
public debate: when presented with an
opportunity to address a full immigrant
integration agenda, participants jumped                   30
                                                              See George Lakoff, et al. The Framing of
at the chance. And this, in turn, does                    Immigration, (Rockridge Institute, May 25,
suggest an important role for

                                           -   41   -
                                                                                                     Immigrant Integration
               though they only take from the good of                         bring. A new message needs to be
               society without offering any benefits in                       developed so that communities
               exchange. The general public rarely                            throughout the County can see the true
               realizes the rich contributions of                             contributions immigrants make to the
               immigrants to Los Angeles. The way the                         region. This requires a set of positive
               debate has been laid out leaves little room                    representations to show the many
               for discussing the benefits immigrants                         dimensions of the diverse foreign-born
                                                                              population of Los Angeles.
          A Pioneer in Funding Immigrant Integration
                                                                              One such message, which was touched
          The Colorado Trust in 2000 put together an                          on above, is being developed and offered
          ambitious 11-year funding project for Immigrant                     by the work of USC Professor Dowell
          Integration. Working with 19 different grantees,                    Myers. In his book, Immigrants and
          the Trust developed a comprehensive framework                       Boomers: Forging a New Social Compact
          that supported immigrant communities, their                         for the Future of America, he stresses the
          advocates, and the members of the community in                      demographic challenges facing the United
          which they reside with a strong focus on building                   States as the massive Baby Boomer
          collaborations. The evaluation of the initiative                    generation retires and needs a working
          identified four important facilitating conditions to                population that can support the social
          strong collaborations:                                              security, health care and other institutions
                                                                              critical to aging populations.31 He argues
           1. Engagement and retention of                                     that immigrants are critical to this but
              a stable group of leaders,                                      that the intergenerational compact will
           2. Strong leadership capacity of                                   only work if the society invests in
              coordinators and/or directors,                                  immigrant families and children. While
                                                                              this is not as complete a picture as many
           3. Credible lead agencies, and
                                                                              would like – other fundamental issues
           4. Facilitation of support and training.                           include the American value of openness to
          Finally, many of the collaborations expressed the                   immigrants and immigrant organizations
          importance of involvement from city and county                      – it is an important part of reframing the
          government, law enforcement, diverse faith                          debate in terms of positive contributions,
          groups and local governments.                                       mutual gains, and mutual obligations.
                                                                              From business leader to labor activists to
             Source: Association for the Study and Development of             community activists, all stressed the need
             Community, Evaluation of the Supporting Immigrant and
             Refugee Families Initiative Immigrant Integration Strategy
             for the Colorado Trust, (2007).                                    31
                                                                                    See Dowell Myers, Immigrants and Boomers:
                                                                                Forging a New Social Compact for the Future of
                                                                                America. (New York: Russell Sage Press, 2007).

                                                              -    42     -
Immigrant Integration
for a new “frame” as a key starting
point for any other activity.

2. Collaboration and
Relationship Building
The need for collaboration and
relationship building as a way to
build trust was a point of
consensus among the focus
groups. Only through trust will
we be able to bring together the
extremely diverse foreign and
U.S.-born populations to forge
sustained change. The process
may be complex because it is
necessary to cross many sectors
and barriers to create interethnic
cooperation and collaboration.
Links need to connect business
with community groups,
immigrant groups with other
immigrant groups, city to county
governmental agencies,                          May Day March, May 2006.
governmental agencies to                        Photo by Patrick Miller.
communities, non-immigrant to
immigrant, and all the various                                alliances between and across groups.
combinations in between.                                      It is particularly important to develop
                                                              unlikely pairings. For example, several
Collaboration not only brings people                          participants reported the importance of
together but it exposes groups to                             including local police departments that
different perspectives, allowing for more                     have a uniquely nuanced understanding
creative and comprehensive approaches.                        of immigrant populations.32 Given the
In addition, it helps different sectors                       changing demographics in Los Angeles,
reach out to populations with whom                            where possible it is also important to
they are not as familiar. This is why
stakeholders across all meetings called
                                                                   Policy and Planning Group Participant,
for space to continue dialogues and build
                                                                December 11, 2007.

                                            -    43       -
                                                                                                        Immigrant Integration
               build on existing deep collaborations                 Leadership development programs are
               between immigrant and African American                important as skill-building mechanisms,
               populations (for example, the work of the             networking opportunities and relationship
               Community Coalition in South L.A.).33                 building to strengthen people and
                                                                     organizations. Implicit within these
                                                                     programs is an opportunity for practical
               3. Leadership Development                             collaborations and real time experiences to
               Participating in coalitions presumes                  provide a positive impact on the
               capacity (and better if it is equal) on the           participants. Lessons from the
               part of coalition partners. This is not               Leadership Development in Interethnic
               always the case for leaders and                       Relations (LIDR) program led by the
               organizations in newer immigrant                      Asian Pacific American Legal Center
               communities, and so leadership                        (APALC) have shown the importance of
               development was another theme repeated                including the following aspects in strong
               by focus group participants. Leadership               leadership development programs that
               development refers to activities that                 emphasize collaboration skills: cultural
               engage immigrants to take action on                   awareness training, including personal,
               their own behalf. It also implies that                cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds
               some of the larger anchor organizations               and the role of stereotypes; skills building
               within Los Angeles need to work with the              that includes conflict resolution, team
               smaller organizations within their                    building, and violence prevention; and a
               communities to help build-up their                    team-based community practical training
               organizing capacities. Leadership                     with community leaders.34
               development must translate into
               community leadership with a focus on
               bringing together the diverse communities             4. Policy and Advocacy
               to address immigrants, their contributions            Many participants acknowledged that
               to our region, and how to create shared               in order to advance and institutionalize
               action agendas within and across                      immigrant integration, there needs to be
               communities.                                          policy and advocacy efforts. Advocacy
                                                                     refers to a broad range of activities that
                      For more on the Community Coalition and        can influence policy, policymaking,
                 its interracial efforts, see Rene P.                and policymakers. This can range from
                 Ciria-Cruz, “Beyond Just Getting Along,”
                 Third of Six-Part Series: To Live And Let
                 Live In South L.A., New America Media,                34
                                                                           See Angela Glover Blackwell, Stewart
                 News Feature, Posted: Sep 13, 2006. http://           Kwoh, and Manuel Pastor, Searching for the
                  Uncommon Common Ground: New Dimensions
                 html?article_id=a2acc1f04797d282f8fe144f050           on Race in America, (New York: Norton & Co.,
                 a38b8.                                                2002).

                                                        -   44   -
Immigrant Integration
research to organizing to educating                           MPI report points to aspects of the No
voters and can be bolstered by building                       Child Left Behind policy that are not
alliances, working in collaboration with                      being enforced, such as leveraging its
other organizations, and strengthening                        requirement of parental involvement for
the staff capacity of organizations to                        parents of English language learners.36
conduct advocacy work.35
                                                              Second, an office at a local level needs
Although policy and advocacy efforts                          to be instituted that serves as a one-stop
can be addressed more broadly, there                          center to provide resources to all
were three main arenas that were                              immigrants trying to navigate civic life
discussed throughout the six focus                            in Los Angeles. The Mayor’s Office of
groups in relation to policy and                              Immigrant Affairs, which was initiated
advocacy: community organizations,                            during the mayoralty of James Hahn
one-stop offices at different                                 but has stalled over the past few years,
jurisdictional levels, and coordination                       has similar goals and has recently been
amongst officials.                                            reinvigorated by Mayor Antonio
                                                              Villagraigosa’s Office and the City
First, community organizations need                           Human Relations Commission.37
to build their capacities to advocate                         Promisingly, they have created an
for local policy change. This includes                        Advisory Board that includes 33
developing or contributing to local                           non-profit organizations to provide
policies that benefit immigrant                               guidance and help determine the issues
communities and helping to introduce                          to be addressed. The New York Office
and/or involve immigrants into the civic                      of Immigrant Affairs offers a good
life of Los Angeles. However, to get                          example of city and county governments
to that level, organizations will need                        coming together to provide comprehen-
capacity building, advocacy agendas,                          sive assistance to immigrants.38 Santa
media exposure, base mobilization, and                        Clara County offers a similar program
relationship building with targets of
the advocacy efforts, such as legislatures                      36
                                                                    Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework
or city council members. Advocacy                               for Developing an Immigrant Integration
efforts could be directed to put pressure                       Strategy for Los Angeles County, the National
                                                                Center on Immigrant Integration Policy,
on existing governmental programs                               (Washington DC: Migration Policy Institute,
that are not currently implemented to                           December 2007, 42).
their fullest extent. For example, the                          37
                                                                    Patricia Villasenor, Deputy Director
                                                                of the Los Angeles City Human Relations
                                                                Commission, interview on June 6, 2008.
     Alliance for Justice, Build Your Advocacy                  38
                                                                    Policy and Planning Group Participant,
  Grantmaking, (2005).                                          December 11, 2007.

                                                 -   45   -
                                                                                                           Immigrant Integration
               that not only provides assistance to recent               5. The Need for Research
               immigrants, but also promotes positive                    Research needs to inform any of the
               immigrant relations with and between                      actions that might be taken. It can frame
               native populations. They provide culturally               the debate, providing the data and
               competent information on the largest                      information that community organizations
               foreign-born populations in their region.                 can use to organize and educate
               Los Angeles County could develop its                      immigrants and non-immigrants. Research
               own approach but make good use of these                   can also provide the platform to test drive
               previous efforts.                                         innovative ideas, as well as to catalog the
                                                                         best practices throughout the country.
               Third, elected and other government
                                                                         The complexities of immigration and
               officials need to coordinate their own
                                                                         immigrant integration requires research
               policy agenda in terms of immigrant
                                                                         to fully grasp the nature and contribution
               integration, partly to be more successful
                                                                         of immigrant communities on a societal,
               at lobbying for resources from state and
                                                                         economic, and cultural level.
               federal governments. Of course, to do
               this, they will need to develop their                     Potential research opportunities suggested
               knowledge of organizations working on                     throughout the focus groups were:
               immigrant issues in their local areas; even
               when officials are willing to engage local                   Community surveys to list needs and
               immigrants, studies have shown they do                       assets,
               not necessarily know who to contact.39
                                                                            Deeper study of the obstacles to
               They will also need to overcome the usual
               fragmentation in services and jurisdictions,
               an issue highlighted by many focus group                     Use of data to develop capacity
               participants. This is hard work, but critical                building to change barriers to
               to having a truly regional approach to                       integrate,
               what is clearly both a regional challenge                    Broad surveys of how immigrants
               and a regional opportunity: integrating                      are perceived so as to develop
               immigrants and insuring that their success                   a new frame that can minimize
               benefits the broader society.                                xenophobia and hostility,
                                                                            Documentation of anti-immigrant
                                                                            hate crime incidents at County
                                                                            schools and communities, and
                                                                            Economic impacts of Earned Income
                                                                            Tax Credit and related tax
                    Ramakrishnan, S. Karthick, and Paul G.
                 Lewis, Immigrants and Local Governance: The                programs in high-immigrant
                 View from City Hall, (San Francisco, California,           communities.
                 Public Policy Institute of California, 2005).

                                                           -    46   -
Immigrant Integration
In general, there was simply a desire to
have a research capacity that could “tell
the story” of immigrants in Southern
California; focus group participants
were struck by the data collected as
a way to jump-start this effort and
were convinced that getting this sort
of information into the general public
could go a long way to building a new
understanding and a new consensus of
the importance of immigrant

6. Adult English Language
The need for adult English language
acquisition far exceeds the supply and
funding throughout the County. The
MPI report estimates that about 1.6
million legal permanent residents and
undocumented immigrants would need
English language instruction to pass
the naturalization exam, or to even
participate civically within the region.
However, during the 2002-2003 school
year (which was the most recent data
                                                        Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Immigrant
available), only about 272,000 people                   Integration and the American Future: Lessons From
were enrolled in English classes at adult               and For California Conference, USC, April 2008.
schools and community colleges, the                     Photo by Patrick Miller.
largest outlet for free English classes.40
The gap is gigantic and there appears                            to be a decrease in enrollment for these
                                                                 programs – which may be attributed to a
      Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework
  for Developing an Immigrant Integration                        lack of awareness within the immigrant
  Strategy for Los Angeles County, the National                  population of these services,
  Center on Immigrant Integration Policy,                        inaccessibility to classes, lack of
  (Washington DC: Migration Policy Institute,
                                                                 transportation and child care, and slow
  December 2007, 38).

                                                   -   47    -
                                                                                                      Immigrant Integration
               student progress and discouragement to                   70 locations throughout the city, some
               continue through the program. Another                    of which provide child care services to
               issue for approximately 10 percent of this               participants. For those workers who are
               population is the lack of basic literacy in              unable to attend onsite classes they have
               their own native languages. This presents                even made a home learning kit available
               unique barriers to learning a second or                  through a program called Sed de Saber
               third language in some cases, especially to              which teaches English using LeapPad
               those whose native languages are                         technology.42
                                                                        Improving English not only positions
               In addition to the limited supply of                     immigrants to be able to take and pass
               free English classes offered throughout                  the citizenship test for naturalization,
               the County, there are issues of access,                  it increases their ability to participate
               convenience and quality. Most classes,                   within society, to assist their children
               as stated above, tend to be completely                   with homework, and importantly, to
               impacted or are not offered at convenient                pursue economic mobility and promotion
               times or places. One solution is to bring                opportunities. The old debate about
               English language programs on-site to the                 whether immigrants should or want to
               workplace; there are many manufacturers                  learn English is tired: they do want to
               and distributors that are open to this                   learn and they need to be afforded the
               idea because they know the importance                    tools to do so.
               of bringing the workforce up to their
               capacity. However some business leaders
               have stumbled upon restrictions that                     7. School Age Learners
               make this very difficult to implement on                 Schools are key for integration in several
               the worksite.41 The Santa Ana Chamber                    ways. First, schools generally serve an
               of Commerce in conjunction with the                      integrating role for all students, as the
               Rancho Santiago Community College                        place where basic societal norms are
               District has begun to address this issue                 taught. Second, English Language
               by launching a program called “English                   Learner (ELL) programs allow families
               Works.” The goal of this program                         to participate regardless of immigration
               is to address workforce competency                       status and this enhances civic
               and employability by teaching English                    engagement. Finally, education is key to
               to 50,000 workers in Santa Ana by                        long-term economic advancement.
               2010. They offer free classes at over
                                                                              Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce website,
                    Business Group Participant, November 13,    
                 2007.                                                    php?content=f20060313.

                                                        -      48   -
Immigrant Integration
Of course, education overall can                                an important point of entry to civic
be compromised if children cannot                               participation as a whole; further, parent
understand what the teacher is saying.                          involvement can help improve a child’s
The ELL population in the Los Angeles                           educational outcomes while at the same
Unified School District (LAUSD) is                              time improving the quality of the school
larger than in any other district in the                        itself. Thus, the specific
United States. Interestingly, 80 percent                        recommendations in this broad arena
of the ELLs in primary school in Los                            of education reform involve supporting
Angeles County are native-born, a                               research into highly effective ELL
reflection of home language preferences                         strategies and creative dual-immersion
and skills on the part of parents that                          English/Spanish programs and
should be addressed through the                                 encouraging parent participation.
expansion of ESL programs
recommended above. However, MPI
has found that once these children                              8. Workforce Development
learn English and graduate out of the                           Further workforce development needs
ELL category, they tend to do better                            include training opportunities, skill
academically than their non-ELL                                 development, and recognizing foreign
counter parts.43 The challenge is making                        credentials. Employers that rely on
sure that they move on to English in a                          the local labor force may be more apt
timely fashion.                                                 to participate in programs that develop
                                                                the skill base of their workers. But it
Of course, English is not enough:                               is important to tap into the business
students need to also graduate from high                        community to partner on potential
school and be positioned for post-                              initiatives. Many workforce
secondary education or gainful                                  development issues revolve around
employment. There is a general problem                          benefiting and uplifting the
with educational attainment in Los                              undertrained and undereducated
Angeles County and immigrant parents                            workers so that they may advance within
can (and should) be an important                                their career and thereby improve their
part of any broad educational reform.                           economic standing.
Increasing parent participation
within the school system provides                               One avenue to address workforce
                                                                development is expanded union
      Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework                apprenticeship programs, combined
  for Developing an Immigrant Integration                       with direct outreach to immigrant
  Strategy for Los Angeles County, the National                 communities for their participation.
  Center on Immigrant Integration Policy,
                                                                However, these opportunities tend to
  (Washington DC: Migration Policy Institute,
  December 2007, 49).                                           be limited to those immigrants that are

                                                   -   49   -
                                                                                                       Immigrant Integration
               legal residents or naturalized; after all, if            process leaves a window for excluding
               unauthorized immigrants graduate from                    people based on protectionist tendencies,
               such programs, their immigration status                  rather than based on the quality of specific
               might make finding work difficult. This                  educational training.
               suggests the need to continue to support
               paths to legalization, but it also
               underscores the need to have other                       9. Community Education and
               programs, such as community-based adult                  Organizing
               learning centers, that are easily accessible             Something that resonated throughout
               to all immigrant residents.44                            most focus group meetings was the need
                                                                        to educate and organize communities
               In addition to undertraining, employers                  throughout Los Angeles. This educational
               may not recognize international training                 process needs to be structured to fit into
               and credentials. As mentioned earlier,                   people’s lives, and organizing is the best
               there are a significant number of                        model to reach people where they are.
               foreign-born workers currently employed
               in low-skill occupations who have                        Specifically, community organizations
               professional degrees from their native                   need to be trained in teaching immigrants
               countries. The roadblocks that limit                     how to pass the citizenship tests and how
               foreign credentials are determined by                    to engage civically. Foreign-born
               professional associations rather than based              populations with resident status or those
               on local, state, or federal policies.45 These            who have been recently naturalized have
               professional associations must decide what               unique educational needs. Foreign-born
               type of training from which countries is                 residents who have not yet taken the step
               valid for comparable work in the United                  towards citizenship, need to understand
               States. The discretionary nature of the                  naturalization benefits, the services offered
                                                                        to pass the exam, and how to become
                       See Chris Benner, Tony LoPresti, Martha          civically engaged. In addition, once
                  Matsuoka, Manuel Pastor, and Rachel Rosner,
                                                                        foreign-born residents become citizens,
                  Immigrant Workers Empowerment and Community
                  Building: A Review of Issues and Strategies for       the educational focus moves towards
                  Increasing Workforce and Economic Opportunity         informing them on electoral work and
                  for Immigrant Workers (Santa Cruz, CA: Center         voter participation.
                  for Justice, Tolerance and Community, April
                  2005); available at:
                                                                        Participants, however, did not think that
                       Margie McHugh, Presentation at the               community organizing should be limited
                  California Immigrant Rights Conference,               to immigrants themselves. Rather,
                  Moving Forward: Building a Shared Vision for          participants called for two-way
                  California’s Immigrant Communities in 2008,
                                                                        educational experiences where diverse
                  (California Immigrant Policy Center, October
                  30, 2007).                                            non-immigrant communities and diverse

                                                          -    50   -
Immigrant Integration
immigrant populations in Los Angeles                                families but includes non-immigrants as
learn from and about each other. This                               well. Based in Fresno, Orange County,
is especially important in order to                                 and parts of Los Angeles, SOL
debunk the myths propagated through                                 encourages people to share their stories
the media, and to enhance dialogues                                 of why they came to California and
between groups like African Americans                               through this, build a common
and immigrants. All Angelenos need                                  understanding.
cultural competency training and
education to build lasting                                          There are many other such
intercommunity bridges. Further, the                                conversational strategies, including those
education needs to address culturally                               deployed by One LA-IAF, an Alinsky-
diverse methods of learning. The best                               style group operating throughout the
way to ensure its appropriateness                                   County. All contribute to sustained
is by partnering with community                                     interactions rooted in basic values that
organizations already doing this work                               can create the base for mutual efforts
throughout the county; these include                                better than thin coalitions focused on
labor-based efforts, faith-based efforts,                           particular interests or issues.47 This may
and others.                                                         seem like a series of “soft” activities with
                                                                    outcomes that are difficult to measure
Particularly important in this bridge-                              and hard to track but participants
building is the patience required for                               viewed them as critical to reaching and
the one-on-one dialogues that are the                               incorporating all the diverse groups,
heart of community organizing. The                                  communities, and sectors, and creating
New Sanctuary Movement offers a                                     ways in which all Angelenos can fully
model, one that works through churches                              contribute to and benefit from the area’s
and other faith institutions to create                              large immigrant populations.
new conversations about immigrant
rights, immigrant communities, and
the ways in which this fits with social                             10. Public Benefit Use and Access
and religious values of generosity and                              Although the issue of public benefit use
welcomeness.46 Another model is the                                 and access was not a major theme that
Strengthening Our Lives (SOL) effort                                arose from the focus group discussions,
that is focused on immigrant working                                it is nonetheless an important theme to
                                                                    address, partly because it figured
      See http://www.newsanctuarymovement.
  org/. They offer literature for groups to use
                                                                    prominently in the MPI report that is
  to build mutual understanding, including a                        one of the basic building blocks for this
  congregational handbook, For You Were Once                        report.
  A Stranger: Immigration in the U.S. Through
  the Lens of Faith, that offers facts, stories, and
  techniques for conversation.                                        47

                                                       -   51   -
                                                                                                                 Immigrant Integration
               Within the discourse on immigration,                     immigrants to access resources to
               the issue of both access and use of public               which they are entitled could help with
               benefits comes up repeatedly, especially                 unresolved health problems and through
               by those who claim that immigrants are                   this, boost labor productivity and regional
               a burden on the system.48 A significant                  income.
               body of research suggests that immigrants
               are essentially a fiscal wash when one                   Health may be an especially important
               takes account of all levels of tax                       arena for advocacy. Through civic
               contribution and spending.49 The problem                 participation, community leadership
               is that many of the economic benefits of                 development, and policy development,
               immigrant labor and income taxes accrue                  systemic changes in the healthcare system
               at the national level while costs, such as               can provide better access to all. In
               public assistance, school expansion, and                 addition, these issues further provide
               other matters, are highly local. But these               opportunity for cross-community
               costs are less a result of immigration per               organizing and can serve as a unifying
               se than they are a function of larger family             issue to bring groups together, especially
               size and lower incomes.                                  since the data above shows that the
                                                                        greatest numbers of uninsured are
               For example, MPI suggests that while                     immigrant Latinos, African Americans,
               immigrants are disproportionately poor,                  and immigrant Asians. Advocating for
               they often use disproportionately less                   access to quality care is an important
               public benefits compared to other groups                 occasion for immigrant and
               in the same income bracket. In fact,                     non-immigrant communities to come
               many immigrants, nearly 50 percent of                    together.
               whom are uninsured, rely on safety-net
               clinics for free or reduced care or avoid                One strategy often used in Latino
               care altogether.50 In fact, encouraging                  communities to address these issues is
                                                                        the support of promotoras, or community
                     Public benefits include Temporary
                                                                        health workers. Promotora programs
                 Assistance for Needy Families, Food Stamps,            usually work at the grassroots level with
                 Supplemental Security Income, and Medi-Cal.            members of the community who work
                     See Gordon H. Hanson, Why Does                     within their community to educate people
                 Immigration Divide America?: Public Finance
                 and Political Opposition to Open Borders,
                                                                        on health issues. In addition to
                 Working Paper 129, (Center for Comparative             educating the community, these programs
                 Immigration Studies, December 2005).                   serve as leadership development tools
                     Leighton, Ku, “Why Immigrants Lack
                 Adequate Access to Health Care and
                 Health Insurance,” Migration Information       
                 Source, (September 2006), http://www.                    cfm?id=417.

                                                       -       52   -
Immigrant Integration
to lift up the skills of the promotoras                  incorrectly or at least without nuance)
themselves, as advocacy tools to educate                 that immigrants are burdensome to the
communities on the issues they are                       system. This is both at odds with the
facing, organizing tools to bring the                    facts and with another possible strategy:
community together, and collaboration                    invest now to reduce costs down the
and relationship building tools as the                   road. For example, better strategies for
promotoras reach out to new people                       workforce development and credential
within the community.                                    recognition can support the upward
                                                         mobility of immigrants into jobs that
To get to this as a strategy will require                may provide benefits and financial
a broad reframing of the debate about                    support sufficient to sustain their
public benefit use and access. The                       families.
current “narrative” suggests (somewhat

                                            -   53   -
                                                                                                Immigrant Integration
  Recommendations for Strategic Directions

               In considering strategic directions
               to impact immigrant integration           The Migration Policy Institute
               one needs to consider three
               fundamental values of American            In their paper, An Analytic Framework for
               society: opportunity, democracy,          Developing an Immigrant Integration Strategy for Los
               and openness.                             Angeles County, the Migration Policy Institute looks
                                                         in depth at issues around immigrants and poverty,
               In our view, Americans value              labor and workforce, health care and public benefit
               opportunity and mobility more             access, and youth and adult English language
               than they do equality. They               education. Following are their suggestions at
               feel that every American                  possible directions for investing in immigrant
               should be given the chance to             integration:
               succeed to their fullest and to
               lift themselves up beyond their
                                                         Potential Directions:
               predecessors – and once given
               that chance, outcomes that reflect           An express integration policy led by the
               differences in talent and drive are          Mayor’s Office, philanthropy, business and
               easily tolerated. They also place a          non-profits to promote language access, civic
               high value on democracy and civic            engagement, and language acquisition.
               engagement, insisting the country            A leadership development strategy for both
               should be run by and for the                 immigrant community leaders and civil servants.
               people – and that those who are
                                                            Community planning grants.
               here must therefore take it upon
               themselves to be involved in                 Investments in organizations that promote
               national and local conversations              naturalization, registration, and voting to focus
               about our shared future.                      on providing language and civics instruction.
                                                            Initiatives that promote year-round
               Finally, Americans value their                engagement; i.e. parent involvement
               history as a welcoming country                programs, investment in health care.
               that enables freedoms denied in
               other countries and is always open
                                                           Source: Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework for
               to fresh ideas – and they expect            Developing an Immigrant Integration Strategy for Los Angeles
               that new residents will share those         County, the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy,
               values and be actively building             (Migration Policy Institute, December 2007).
               bridges to other communities as

                                                     -    54     -
Immigrant Integration
These three values – opportunity,                      to be addressed. We cannot take a
democracy, and openness – translate                    one-size-fits-all approach, and assume
directly to our definition of immigrant                that all programs will be applicable to
integration: improved economic                         all immigrants. Serious consideration
mobility for, enhanced civic                           needs to be given to designing programs
participation by, and receiving society                and initiatives with strategies as diverse
openness to immigrants. We organize                    as the immigrant populations they seek
our recommendations into those three                   to serve.
areas below, suggesting a range of
strategies that might be of special
interest to foundations.                               Goal 1. Increase opportunities for
                                                       economic mobility for immigrants,
Because service provision is important                 their families and their
for immigrant communities, we assume                   communities.
that foundations will and should fund                  Socio-economic mobility is a cherished
and support model service delivery                     aspiration of American society. As
programs. However the collective                       discussed earlier, our research shows
feedback from focus groups, research,                  that immigrants are a major part of
interviews, and the MPI report, as                     the workforce in Los Angeles, but
well as our own analysis, suggests that                they also tend to be in low-skill and
an additional role for funders includes                low-wage occupations with limited
a broader set of civic tasks, including                opportunities to move up the economic
convening community and business                       ladder. Increasing opportunities for the
leaders across sectors to make a                       economic mobility of immigrants, their
commitment to immigrant integration,                   families and their communities can help
assisting the provision of information                 improve the economy for Los Angeles
that can make the debate more informed                 overall.
and more civil, and working with others
(including grantees and agencies) to                   Some of the barriers preventing
move supportive policy so that model                   immigrant economic mobility include:
programs can become standard practice.                 limited-to-no knowledge of English,
                                                       lack of transferable education
A final admonition: It is important to                 credentials, insufficient social
remember, however, that the diverse                    connections to high paying occupations
immigrant population in Los Angeles                    (partly because of residence in areas
(and many other regions) comes from                    of concentrated poverty), and in some
all over the world, and correspondingly                cases, a lack of documentation.
from many distinct realities that need

                                          -   55   -
                                                                                               Immigrant Integration
               To address these issues, strategies should                   Objective 1: Support the economic
               focus on improving economic                                  advancement of immigrants in the
                                                                            workforce through English language
               opportunities for immigrants in the                          acquisition, workforce and business
               workforce, but also for their families and                   development, and the recognition of the
               neighbors. In particular, African                            educational credentials of foreign-trained
               American communities who have                                workers.
               historically faced many barriers to                          The major obstacles facing immigrant
               economic mobility need to be                                 workers’ employment advancement
               incorporated into the strategy.                              opportunities are language barriers,
                                                                            limited skills training, lack of legal papers,
                                                                            and barriers by employers and professional
      Tackling Literacy                                                     associations to recognize foreign-based
      A sometimes overlooked obstacle to learning English
      is illiteracy in one’s own native tongue. One
      community organization, Centro Latino for Literacy                    Potential Strategies
      (Centro) addresses adult English language
                                                                               Partner with community colleges,
      acquisition by providing free Spanish literacy classes
                                                                               businesses and labor to provide
      for immigrant populations in the Pico Union area
                                                                               integrated worksite English
      of Los Angeles (although participants have come
                                                                               and skills training classes with
      as far as Monrovia and Compton to attend classes).
                                                                               well qualified instructors.
      Using a computer based program they designed called
      Leamos, the Centro teaches non-literate Spanish                          Partner with professional
      speakers to read and write in Spanish so that they                       associations and city and state agencies
      may function better within society. After 100 hours                      to identify licensing and accreditation
      of instruction, most participants can read at a fourth                   procedures for professional degrees
      grade level. Once participants are comfortable with                      obtained outside of the country.
      reading and writing in Spanish, they can progress                        Analyze career ladders, with special
      through the advanced classes offered at the Centro,                      attention to upward mobility and
      such as English, financial and health literacy, and                      attachment to growing industries,
      computer classes. On-site ESL classes are offered in                     such as the green economy, health
      collaboration with LAUSD and therefore the Centro                        care, and logistics, and build this into
      is used as a satellite for Belmont Adult School.                         immigrant workforce development.
        Source: Centro Latino for Literacy, ( January 2008).

                                                               -   56   -
Immigrant Integration
Objective 2: Increase opportunities                         school, the ELL Program and on
for families and children of immigrants                     to a college education, and, if not,
by working to improve K-12 education
and by specifically promoting parental                      how to advocate on their behalf,
involvement in schools.                                  2. Developing parent leadership
Education is not only the foundation to                     skills to work on advocacy issues
future economic opportunities, but it is                    beyond just their child and
an important avenue for immigrant                           extending to local schools, and
integration as well. Education has been                  3. Engaging workers, unions,
shown to improve a person’s economic                        employers, and the families of
mobility as an adult. It is thus vital to                   workers to create opportunities at
expand the quality of K-12 education                        the workplace and through unions
and access to postsecondary education                       to increase workers’ capacity to help
for all. In addition, K-12 education is                     advance their children’s education.
often the first place parents become
acquainted with systems and institutions
in the United States and where children
                                                         Business Takes a Lead
learn the norms of the United States
society.                                                 The Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce recognized
                                                         a need for a long-term strategy that dealt with
There are many programs throughout                       training immigrants as the region faced population
Los Angeles already addressing these                     growth driven by immigrants accompanied by a
issues through parent leadership                         decrease in the average per capita income. In
programs that would be useful to study                   addition, their research found a major technical
and scale. Three notable programs are                    skills gap between local workforce and local
the Parent University, a collaborative                   industries. One of their strategies to reverse
program between SEIU Local 1877,                         this trend was to create a jointly administered
UCLA’s IDEA, the UCLA Labor                              public-private high school with funding from
Center and UCLA students; the Parent                     the Chamber working in tandem with the school
School Partnership program                               district. The curriculum is called High School,
implemented by MALDEF; and the                           Inc. and is designed to serve as a training school
APALC’s Parent Academy series.                           for the six growth sectors of the Santa Ana region;
Some of the important aspects of these                   automotive and transportation, engineering and
programs which are essential in                          construction, global business, health care,
considering like projects are:                           manufacturing and new media. The goal of the
                                                         school is to train students and to serve as a bridge
1. Teaching parents how to work                          between high school and the working world or
   within the school system so they                      college.
   can ensure that their children are on
   the right path to advance through                       – Business Group Participant, November 13, 2007.

                                            -   57   -
                                                                                                   Immigrant Integration
               Potential Strategies
                                                                 “Immigrant integration should not
                  Sustain successful parent
                                                                 happen in isolation of anyone else…
                  leadership programs to enable them
                                                                 (otherwise) you will isolate the effort
                  to continue this important work.
                                                                 and exclude the involvement of other
                  Partner with principals, businesses            people.”
                  and local chambers of commerce to              –Participant, Coalition Building
                  develop innovative programs that
                  target real world occupational
                  preparation within middle and high             populations culpable for social stresses
                  school.                                        and woes, is to demonstrate commitment
                  Work on policies and programs to               by investing in those communities as
                  encourage preschools and elementary            well. Many communities that have been
                  schools to offer dual immersion or             historically African American are seeing
                  dual language instruction.                     larger influxes of immigrant populations.
                                                                 In order to benefit immigrant
               Objective 3: Invest in traditional African        communities, we must increase the
               American communities and organizations            welfare of the community overall.
               in increasingly immigrant communities
               so as to complete the economic and
               social integration of neglected                   Potential Strategies
               native-born populations.
                                                                     Sustain community organizations
               While the new interest in immigrant
                                                                     in African American communities,
               communities is welcome, we and others
                                                                     especially in South Los Angeles, to
               worry whether this could lead to a decline
                                                                     help address community needs.
               in investment in African American
               organizations and neighborhoods. We                   Create community leadership
               believe that such investments should                  development training, particularly for
               be sustained and increased for two                    youth, to focus on building bridges
               reasons. First, such organizations are                between African American and
               often looking for help as they adjust to              Latino communities.
               new immigrant constituencies in their                 Sustain concrete programs that meet
               service areas and they have often been                the common interests of African
               the bedrock for many efforts aimed at                 Americans and immigrants, such
               community development and social                      as pre-apprenticeship programs
               justice in what are now increasingly                  for African American and Latino
               immigrant communities. Second, a clear                youth to connect them to labor
               way to combat inter-ethnic tension, and               apprenticeship programs.
               deter people from holding immigrant

                                                    -   58   -
Immigrant Integration
                                        Building Immigrant Leaders

Goal 2. Enhance                         An example of leadership development is the Mexican American
opportunities for civic                 Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s (MALDEF) work
participation by immigrants.           around leadership building for hometown association (HTA)
                                        leaders. HTAs are social networks in host countries that bring
Democracy is one of the great
                                        together migrants from particular regions, towns or
promises of this nation. Yet we
                                        municipalities. Some of these organizations are informal
have often fallen short of the
                                        groupings of individuals that come together to play soccer or
ideal, prompting social
                                        other sports. Others are more formal networks that not only
movements, such as those that
                                        serve as a mechanism to help their hometowns improve social
resulted in the civil rights protests
                                        and economic projects, but also to help migrants navigate
of the 1960s, to call us to our
                                        through the host country’s systems, and integrate better into
higher purpose. It was a
                                        society. Many of the more formal groups began informally and
challenging era but eventually we
                                        through a natural progression set up or affiliated with broader
acted nationally and locally to
                                        federations or similar groups. In Los Angeles, there are many
establish a legal framework that
                                        HTAs, the largest number coming from the Mexican state of
insured that all Americans could
                                        Jalisco, with 103 clubs;1 however, there are more than 400 clubs
vote and voice their views.
                                        from many states throughout Mexico within Los Angeles,2 and
As much as American democracy           many more from other countries as well. There are even
was threatened by the Jim Crow          federations that represent all the clubs from one state and a
laws of the past, it is weakened        broader organization that represents all the state federations
today by the fact that so many of       of Mexico called the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas
our region’s residents have a           (COFEM).
limited voice in the decisions that
                                        MALDEF’s work in this area began in 2005 when leaders of
affect their lives. In our view,
                                        the COFEM realized the need to develop their capacity level
immigrants need a space to
                                        and train individuals wanting to establish their own HTA.
express their opinions and
                                        The MALDEF-Hometown Association Leadership Program
participate in the civic life of Los
                                        or LIDER is a 15-week curriculum that introduces people to
Angeles. We see this as part
                                        MALDEF and the HTA system. Participants learn about the
of the democratic promise, but
                                        roles and responsibilities of HTAs in the community, legal
even those who may feel strongly
                                        rights, getting out the vote, immigration rights and much more.
about who should not take part in
                                        The program focuses on teaching participants how to involve
decision-making should recognize
                                        themselves as members of the broader community.3
that providing avenues for
immigrant participation can                 1        Luis Escala-Rabadan, et al., “Mexican Migrant Civic and Political
inculcate a spirit of engagement                     Participation in the U.S.: The Case of Hometown Associations in Los
that will hopefully persist as                       Angeles and Chicago,” Norteamerica 1, no. 2, ( July-December 2006):
many of these residents make the
                                            2        Univision, “Que es el Consejo de Federaciones?”, http://www.
passage to being U.S. citizens.
                                            3        Interview with Sara Zapata-Mijares, ( January 4, 2008).

                                        -       59     -
                                                                                                        Immigrant Integration
               There are ample opportunities for                      Objective 1: Build leadership skills
               non-citizens to exercise civic                         through the use of proven models,
                                                                      experimentation with new models, and
               participation, including getting involved              active learning from leadership training
               in school meetings, community                          experiences in other regions.
               gatherings, community organizations,
                                                                      Strong leaders are vital to ensuring
               civic clubs, hometown associations,
                                                                      that the issues of immigrants are being
               faith-based organizations, and
                                                                      addressed. While there are many actual
               neighborhood councils. Voting and direct
                                                                      barriers to civic participation, one of the
               service in most government and quasi-
                                                                      easiest to resolve is a lack of knowledge
               governmental agencies are the only two
                                                                      about how to work within the system.
               areas that non-citizens are barred from.
                                                                      Building an understanding of current
               Although the opportunities do exist, here              systems and developing programs to
               we highlight potential barriers to active              enhance leadership skills can allow for
               civic participation for non-citizen                    greater civic participation and common
               immigrants in Los Angeles. Many                        agenda setting between immigrant and
               immigrants come from countries where                   non-immigrant communities. There are
               participation is not encouraged, at best.              many types of leadership development
               Immigrants in low-income jobs who                      programs from which to learn, including
               supplement their wages with a second                   parent and community leader programs as
               job or overtime have little time for civic             described earlier and hometown
               engagement. Further, in public settings,               association leaders as described in the text
               real or perceived feelings of                          box on the previous page.
               unwelcomeness to the undocumented
               incites fear of deportation and decreases              Potential Strategies
               participation. Finally, even some avenues
                                                                         Build the capacity of organizations to
               for local participation, such as
                                                                         provide leadership skills to
               neighborhood councils, are perceived as
               hotbeds of anti-immigrant sentiments,
               even though they were founded on                          Invest in leadership development
               principles of full civic engagement.51                     of receiving communities to
                                                                          encourage a shift in attitudes
               To address these issues, relationships and                 and a new set of skills.
               collaborations need to be built through
                                                                         Create opportunities for community
               leadership development, increased
                                                                         leadership development training and
               political participation, and bringing
                                                                         practical real time collaboration.
               together groups across many sectors.

                    Policy and Planning Group Participant,
                 December 11, 2007.

                                                        -    60   -
Immigrant Integration
Objective 2: Increase political
participation through support of                       Media and Engagement
naturalization, as well as encouraging
immigrant residents to participate in                  NALEO, SEIU, the We Are America Alliance with
local planning processes and assisting                 television and radio outlets and hundreds of community
city authorities in developing
                                                       organizations nationwide initiated the “Ya es Hora”
appropriate outreach.
                                                       civic participation campaign (in English, “now is the
Immigrants are affected by the policies                time”) to focus comprehensively on naturalization, voter
implemented by local, state and federal                registration, and get-out-the-vote drives to incorporate
governments; if they are to insure that                Latinos into the political process. The successful efforts
their needs and issues are addressed                   of this campaign led to over one million naturalization
within those frameworks, they will need                applications in 2007 alone.
to get involved. Part of this will involve
promoting naturalization for the many                       – Ya Es Hora website,
long-time permanent residents who are
here legally and are active participants in
the economy, but have no voice in the
political process. It is also necessary to                  participation and a voice for all residents
inform and educate naturalized citizens                     of the County.
to ensure that they understand the issues
                                                            Some of the major barriers to this goal
facing their communities.
                                                            are the lack of accessible information
A more difficult challenge is the                           on how to complete the application,
participation of the estimated one                          limited or no English language skills
million undocumented residents in Los                       and content knowledge to be able to
Angeles County. As noted, nearly half                       take and pass the naturalization exam,
these residents have been here for over                     and the financial burden of the
a decade and the regional economy has                       application fees. The MPI report, for
become accustomed to their labor, even                      example, estimated that over 900,000
as they remain shut out of full economic                    legal permanent residents within Los
and civic participation. In the absence                     Angeles County would need English
of a federally designed path to                             language instruction in order to pass
legalization, we will maintain a two-tier                   the exam, and also pointed to nearly
society with all the attendant risks. We                    700,000 undocumented immigrants who
firmly believe that this is dangerous for                   would need such language training.52
society – and also believe that
                                                                   Michael Fix, et al., An Analytic Framework
legalization will eventually be part of
                                                               for Developing an Immigrant Integration
a comprehensive immigration reform                             Strategy for Los Angeles County, The National
in coming years. Preparing for that                            Center on Immigrant Integration Policy,
day will require creating avenues for                          (Washington DC: Migration Policy Institute,
                                                               December 2007, 35).

                                              -   61    -
                                                                                                          Immigrant Integration
               Potential Strategies                                  are disengaged from issues of national
                  Invest in programs that help                       and local importance. At least until this
                   immigrants complete the                           recent electoral cycle, voting rates were
                   naturalization process by providing               down and popular cynicism towards
                   both English and United States                    government was up. Coalitions are hard
                   civic classes, guidance to fill out the           to form when people believe that little
                   application, and fee waivers or fee               can be done. Second, it is extraordinarily
                   microloans for low-income applicants.             difficult to talk about race given a highly
                                                                     polarized discourse in which some
                  Organize naturalized and
                                                                     Americans believe civil rights have been
                  underrepresented native-born
                                                                     achieved and we are now a colorblind
                  populations to understand the
                                                                     society, others believe that an inherently
                  issues facing their communities and
                                                                     uneven playing field is a feature of our
                  get out to vote during elections.
                                                                     history and still persists, and still others
                  Invest in organizations working                    find themselves hesitant to talk for fear
                   towards immigrant rights and                      of saying the “wrong thing” and being
                   comprehensive immigration                         labeled either racist or ethnocentric. This
                   reform on a federal level.                        “failure to talk” has helped produce a third
                                                                     challenge for multi-ethnic coalitions:
                                                                     the country lacks a clear vision for racial
               Objective 3: Support multi-ethnic,
               multi-sector, and multi-agency convening              justice. While the civil rights movement
               processes that can help immigrants and                of the last century focused on ending
               non-immigrants, as well as leaders from               legal discrimination, in our time we lack
               the diverse immigrant populations of Los              direction since current issues of inequality
               Angeles, build a firm basis for
               collaboration and participation.                      are deeply embedded in the economy and
                                                                     residential segregation, and we are not
               While we have stressed the importance                 clear what can and should be done.53
               of investing in immigrant leadership and
               organizations, immigrant integration is a             Despite the challenges, crossing the lines
               two-way street – and building the sense of            that divide is important. To get there
               mutual responsibility and mutual destinies            requires a series of steps and under-
               is crucial. This will only occur, however,            girding principles. First, a positive vision
               if we focus on building multi-ethnic                  must be created and sustained. Second,
               coalitions that can cross lines of race and           racial and ethnic issues must be given
               space.                                                ample space from the start; otherwise they

               Multiracial coalitions in Los Angeles and               53
                                                                          Angela Glover Blackwell; Stewart Kwoh,
               the nation, in general, are beset by three              and Manuel Pastor. Searching for the Uncommon
               specific challenges. One, Americans                     Ground: New Dimensions on Race in America,
                                                                       (New York: The American Assembly, 2002).

                                                     -      62   -
Immigrant Integration
could arise later and may be destructive.
                                                          Unions and Employers Work Together
Third, leaders need to focus on forming
trusting relationships that enable tough                  Building Skills Partnership (BSP) is a joint project
conversations on race and be supportive                   between the security guard and janitor’s union, SEIU
when crises arise. Fourth, cross-sectoral                 Local 1877, and building owners and managers. The
coalitions must put an end to                             program is currently funded by monies coming from
fragmentation and let members share                       both labor and employers, as well as from a
their skills, to garner greater wins.                     California Employment Training Panel (ETP)
Finally, there needs to be a mix of                       grant, which stipulates on-site training as a condition
practice and analysis for coalitions to                   of funding. Although relatively young, the BSP
have vibrancy.                                            serves almost 1000 low wage workers per year, and
                                                          has already begun to make a difference in the lives
While we have focused here on race, an                    of workers in varying capacities. BSP’s program is
equally important set of divides occurs                   holistic in scope: emphasizing both workplace
between sectors and agencies. One key                     development and development in the home. Their
sectoral divide is between business and                   on-site English program allows workers to attend a
labor. We are not naïve – workers want                    one-hour class for three days a week, the first hour of
higher wages, firms want higher profits,                  their work shift. According to Aida Cardenas from
and there are bound to be conflicts.                      the BSP, the demand for these courses is high, from
But our own analysis and conversations                    both immigrant workers who are eager to improve
indicate that there are shared concerns                   their English skills, and from employers who see the
about the vitality of the immigrant                       program as a way to develop their workforce. In its
workforce. Businesses may first come                      pilot year, the on-site ESL course drew in 191
to immigrant labor based on lower cost                    participants, compared to the 65 that attended the
but they have also developed a sense                      ESL course that was held at Local 1877. Upon
that these are highly attached and eager                  completion of the six-month program the participants
workers, and they are clearly open to                     are given a $100 bonus. The BSP is expanding into
training and other programs that raise                    an independent non-profit, and is already fielding
skills (and, yes, even wages) in the                      requests from building owners and employers to
pursuit of higher productivity.                           provide on-site training to employees in an expanded
Another set of divides is between
agencies and branches of government.                        Source: Interview with Aida Cardenas, January 2008.
While we discuss fragmentation of
government services below, suffice it to
say that this is not an issue that affects
only immigrants. Still, it is important
and one way in which foundations can
contribute is as convenors of coalitions

                                             -   63   -
                                                                                                     Immigrant Integration
               to facilitate the collaboration of groups            While there are many reasons why we
               and agencies that would not normally                 have become less open – economic
               come together.                                       insecurity, fear of cultural change, and the
                                                                    sheer scale of immigration to name just
                                                                    three – one big issue involves the
               Potential Strategies
                                                                    challenges that occur when complex issues
                  Convene a series of coalitions to                 get reduced to sound bites and
                  address specific integration issues,              accusations. The way around this barrier
                  such as: a city/county agency coalition,          and toward openness involves both
                  an immigrant/Black coalition, a                   changing attitudes and changing realities.
                  multi-immigrant coalition, and an                 The attitude shift for native-born
                  immigrant/native-born coalition.                  populations, involves gaining knowledge
                  Convene a cross-sectoral working                  and understanding of the immigrant
                  group around workforce                            situation and their true contributions to
                  development, helping to define                    the region. But attitude is not enough.
                  common interests and strategies
                                                                    We also need to address a fragmented
                  for economic advancement.
                                                                    governance structure that plagues Los
                  Work with multiple city                           Angeles and many other regions, a
                  agencies to bridge gaps at                        structure that leaves no clear delineation
                  reaching immigrant populations.                   of whose role it is to address immigrant
                                                                    integration. It is also important to create
               Goal 3. Foster openness in                           the sort of person-to-person coalitional
               society towards immigrants and                      experiences that can go beyond a
               their families.                                      communications strategy and create a
               America prides itself on its openness to             more solid basis for change. Our
               people and ideas – and Los Angeles is                recommendations below are in this vein.
               emblematic of that embrace. When the                 Objective 1. Support organizations that
               world came here for the Olympics in                  seek to reframe the debate and provide a
               1984, we were able to boast that the world           balanced view of immigrant
                                                                    contributions to the local regional
               was already here: immigrants from all the
                                                                    economy and society.
               visiting countries were on hand to greet
               the teams from their former nations. And             Public misconceptions create a barrier to
               it is this sort of openness that will allow          integration. Misperceptions include the
               us to accommodate to change and build                belief that immigrants are all Mexican,
               a framework that can make the most of                young and never aging, using up our
               what immigrants and their families can               public benefits, and overcrowding our
               offer to our broader regional social and             schools with immigrant children unversed
               economic health.                                     in English. The data presented here and

                                                      -    64   -
Immigrant Integration
  Integration by Executive Order

  In November of 2005, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the New Americans Executive
  Order designed to identify areas where the state can support efforts to enable immigrant social and
  economic integration. The Executive Order has been successful at identifying the current and
  historical contributions of immigrants and mobilizing a host of different interests – business,
  community, labor, faith, and government who are developing policy recommendations for a
  comprehensive immigrant integration strategy. In addition to this policy council, the Executive
  order has developed a New American Interagency Task Force aimed at increasing coordination and
  standardization amongst government agencies in providing foreign language services, staff cultural
  training, and data-driven programmatic and policy decisions affecting refugees and immigrants. This
  comprehensive response is poised to enable work around immigrant integration on multiple fronts
  simultaneously, notably with government support.

     Source: Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, For the Benefit of All: Strategic Recommendations to Enhance
     the State’s Role in the Integration of Immigrants in Illinois, (December 2006).

in the accompanying report from the                                large Baby Boomer population retires,
Migration Policy Institute suggests this                           immigrants will replace the shortfall in
is wrong even in the case of                                       the workforce and continue to provide
immigrant-rich (and traditionally                                  funding for social security.54
viewed as mainly Latino) Los Angeles.
The foreign-born population is in fact                             Reframing the debate along these lines
very diverse and come from many                                    can help us focus in on the real issues:
different countries. Given income                                  education, workforce development, and
levels, they are using public benefits less                        civic participation to promote immigrant
than native-born populations and the                               advancement. And while there may be a
great majority of English learners in                              common set of strategies, it will also be
our schools are native-born and making                             helpful to communicate the complexity
progress.                                                          of the foreign-born population lest
                                                                   leaders and decision-makers fall into
Moreover, the economy of Los Angeles                               a trap of relying on a one-size-fits-all
is dependent on foreign-born workers                               approach.
and will benefit even more if this
population is well-educated and                                      54
                                                                        See Dowell Myers, Immigrants and
well-trained in order to maintain its                                Boomers, Forging a New Social Contract for the
                                                                     Future of America (New York: Russell Sage
regional competitiveness. As the
                                                                     Foundation, 2007).

                                                  -    65      -
                                                                                                                 Immigrant Integration
  Learning from the Silicon Valley

  The Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations’
  Immigrant Relations and Integration Services (IRIS)
  has moved beyond just a service model for immigrants
                                                                     sizable population and a city college very
  and towards working actively on developing resources for
                                                                     important to immigrant students (East
  immigrant communities to empower themselves. This
                                                                     LA City College). The County itself
  includes highlighting the contributions that the diverse
                                                                     may be a logical location for immigrant
  immigrant population brings to the area and promoting
                                                                     integration responsibilities across the
  “positive immigrant relations and integration services.”
                                                                     region but it does not wield significant
  Since integration is a two-way process, civic participation        power over anything but transit and
  is facilitated by the County making efforts to promote             health policy, with additional
  civic engagement, citizenship courses, and community               responsibilities for fire protection and
  development, for both the results of that work and the             policing in unincorporated areas and cities
  effort it symbolizes to change the context of reception for        contracting for services. Educational
  immigrants. Further, their interactive and multilingual            systems offer yet another level of
  website (including an ESL class search engine) offers access       complexity, with LAUSD at odds with
  to resources in an efficient, expedited manner.                    the main city it serves and the adult
                                                                     services that would be most relevant to
    Source:                                          immigrants poorly coordinated.

                                                                     Immigration is not the only cross-cutting
               Potential Strategies
                                                                     issue getting short shrift in the midst of
                   Develop a media messaging campaign                this jurisdictional complexity but it is one
                   to address reframing the debate.                  of the most important to be left to one
                   Educate non-immigrants on the                     side. One of the most important things
                   benefits and diversity of immigrants.             that foundations can do is help local
                                                                     governments understand that this is one
                   Hold countywide study circles
                                                                     of their core responsibilities – not because
                   for mid-level leadership.
                                                                     it is well-funded but because it is critical
                                                                     to regional survival. And to do this, local
               Objective 2. Help local governments
                                                                     governments will need to coordinate
               understand that immigrant integration is
               a core responsibility and assist officials            better amongst themselves.
               who are finding ways to work across
               often complicated jurisdictional lines.               We realize that this is a tall order.
               Los Angeles seems to have perfected the               Yet as Ramakrishnan and Lewis say,
               fragmentation of governance: we have                  “effective governance depends on open
               88 cities in the county who infrequently              channels between government officials
               coordinate, often jealously guarding their            and constituents.”55 For Los Angeles
               prerogatives and their tax revenues. Large              55
                                                                          Ramakrishnan, S. Karthick, and Paul G.
               swaths of the County are unincorporated,                Lewis, Immigrants and Local Governance: The
               including East Los Angeles with its                     View from City Hall, (San Francisco, California:

                                                     -      66   -
Immigrant Integration
County, we would expand that to
include open channels within the                      Faith Communities Coming Together
various governmental sectors.                         Traditional organizing models say that “anger casts out
                                                      fear.” Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
Potential Strategies                                  (CLUE), a religious organizing group, say instead
                                                      that “perfect love casts out fear.” Thus, to cast out fear
   Convene a coalition of cross
                                                      through congregations, CLUE is bringing together
   agency, cross City, County
                                                      Latino evangelical congregations with both white
   and LAUSD to address the
                                                      evangelical congregations in Orange County and black
   importance of local
                                                      evangelical congregations in South Los Angeles under
   government’s responsibility
                                                      the common context of prayer and to explore pastoral
   for immigrant integration.
                                                      responses to immigration.
   Reinvigorate a local Office of
   Immigrant Affairs to address                       These dialogues are catalyzed by a coalition of 1200
   the needs of immigrants to fully                   Latino Christian Evangelicals who call themselves La
   integrate into the civic life of Los               Red de Pastores and enables them to reach populations
   Angeles, but also to help                          they do not normally work with but in a setting that
   receiving communities                              they can relate to.
   understand these popula-
                                                           Source: Interview with Alexia Salvatierra, Executive Director of
   tions more fully.                                       CLUE Los Angeles, February 2008.
   Push government to do the
   work of immigrant integration
   by funding community-based                                    that can sustain common bonds of
   organizations that can prompt                                 understanding. We think that one way
   action through advocacy.                                      to do this is support those groups that
                                                                 organize across boundaries, and not just
Objective 3. Support groups that
                                                                 those groups working on immigration
organize around common issues that                               per se.
span all the diverse immigrant and
non-immigrant populations and can                                Some important components for a thriv-
help various communities see their                               ing coalition include: a clear context and
mutual regional interests.
                                                                 mission so as to set the tone around the
Building coalitions among government                             work of the coalition; developing clear
officials is important but it is equally                         deliverables for each participant; being
critical to create person-to-person and                          open and honest about organizational
community-to-community relationships                             capacities in terms of what one can or
                                                                 cannot bring to the coalition; and a clear
  Public Policy Institute of California, 2005).

                                                  -   67     -
                                                                                                              Immigrant Integration
               understanding of what each community
               can gain from the coalition. Some have                   “Its important that we connect a racial
               also stressed the need to build such                     justice lens to immigrant integration
               coalitions and learning experience                       work.”
               amongst younger community members                          -Participant, Coalition Building
               and faith institutions, setting a pattern of
               collaboration that can persist.
                                                                         Convening and Developing Leadership

                                                                         Foundations can launch a series of efforts
               Potential Strategies
                                                                         to convene leadership to work in the areas
                  Convene a quarterly meeting on                         of the economy, civic engagement, and
                  immigrant integration to bring                         social reception. They could, for example,
                  together unusual suspects, like                        help create conversations about workforce
                  business, non-profits, faith-based                     needs that would bring business,
                  organizations, unions, philanthropy                    unions, and workforce trainers together
                  and civic leadership from both the                     to review best practice strategies for
                  City and County governments.                           up-skilling immigrant workers. It could,
                  Support person-to-person                               as noted above, bring agencies across cities
                  relationship building through                          together to understand why and how
                  community organizing and                               immigrant integration should be a core
                  promotora-type programs so that                        governmental responsibility. And it could
                  people begin to build the trust that is                convene a broad range of civic leadership
                  so critical to sustain coalition work.                 on a quarterly or biannual basis to simply
                                                                         track the progress of immigrants and raise
                  Invest in helping immigrant
                                                                         public consciousness on the issue.
                   organizations build the capacity
                   to integrate into coalitions on                       It will also be necessary to develop the
                   common issues like housing                            leadership to be convened. This involves
                   affordability, workforce development                  investing in training programs in a wide
                   and community safety.                                 variety of community-based
                                                                         organizations, supporting efforts to
               The Niche for Foundations                                 naturalize immigrants and encourage
               While some of the recommendations                         electoral participation, and working with
               above specifically target the philanthropic               city agencies to open public participation
               role, it is useful to stress that foundations             processes to non-citizen residents. But it
               can also play a useful role as convenors                  also means bringing leaders together to
               of leadership, providers of information,                  understand their mutual interests – and
               investors in new models, and movers of                    funders are often in a unique position to

                                                       -       68   -
Immigrant Integration
command the respect and
attention of multiple strands
of leadership.

Providing and Framing

Foundations have an
important potential role
in dispelling myths and
educating the public about
the facts of immigrant
integration. Part of this
involves the development
of new research capacity,
perhaps through a series
of allied institutions that
can focus on the facts of
immigrant integration             Immigrant Integration and the American Future: Lessons From and For
and also catalog emerging         California Conference, USC, April 2008.
successful practices. But it      Photo by Patrick Miller.

also involves the creation of
a new ability to create and
disseminate messages about                               mutual interests forged not by shallow
immigrant contributions,                                 agreement but by the hard work of
immigrant progress, and the                              conversation and compromise.
interdependence of long-time and recent
                                                         Investing in and Promoting Models
This does not mean supporting a                          Foundations can also lead the way to
Pollyannaish view of immigration: there                  best practices and programs by investing
are real issues of displacement, cultural                in model community-based literacy
change, and competition that will                        programs, stellar efforts to engage
require honest analysis and discussion.                  immigrant parents in their children’s
But by supporting the development of                     education, and unique and unexpected
information, leadership, and dialogue,                   coalitions amongst community
foundations can create the groundwork                    organizations. This list can easily be
for what some have termed “the highest                   expanded to other areas, including
common ground” – an understanding of

                                            -   69   -
                                                                                               Immigrant Integration
               health, workforce, and urban planning,                 among these is national immigration
               but the point here is simply for funders               reform. For example, if we do not
               to be conscious about investing in, then               eventually craft an immigration policy
               disseminating the lessons from innovative              that includes a path to citizenship, nearly
               programs.                                              10 percent of the County population and
                                                                      an even larger share of its workers will
               Such promotion is important because                    be in permanent and dangerous limbo.
               the efforts of smaller and more nimble                 Foundations help move a national agenda
               foundations can sometimes point the                    by investing in community organizations
               way for other players in the foundation                that are working on state and national
               world who may have ample resources                     policy, and by supporting the efforts of
               but have less of an ear to the ground. In              those who are protecting communities
               our view, what happens in L.A. may not                 from the excesses of current policy.
               stay in L.A. – immigrant integration has
               become an issue of real concern to many                Foundations should also support direct
               philanthropies and as funders embark on                policy change at a local or metropolitan
               this work, they will find it useful to pool            level. In particular, regional funders
               knowledge as well as money in the quest                convene local government actors and
               to generate a more productive future for               help them identify obstacles standing in
               immigrants and the larger society.                     the way of effective service delivery to
                                                                      immigrant communities. This is not an
                                                                      easy task – the fragmentation that affects
               Moving and Shaping Policy
                                                                      immigrant families affects many other
               Model programs will not be enough –                    realms of public policy – but it is
               policies must change as well. Foremost                 nonetheless crucial.

                                                      -      70   -
Immigrant Integration

  America has long been celebrated as a                     is now deeply connected to the fates
  nation of immigrants. While this is a                     of the large numbers of immigrants
  bit misleading – we had a sizeable and                    and their children who live here. And
  eventually displaced indigenous                           while the national focus has been on
  population, not all who came to our                       the costs of new immigrants, the leaders
  shores were willing migrants, and some                    we interviewed in this research tended
  populations just happened to live on                      to believe that immigration has been a
  land that we annexed – it is a telling                    boon to Los Angeles County. It has
  myth and it is rooted in the reality of so                provided new workers, residents who
  many who are now here and helped this                     are revitalizing communities, and a new
  country grow and prosper.                                 sense of energy and transnationalism in
                                                            an increasingly global society.
  We often tend to think the America
  that resulted was just the happy                          Whether we are able to capitalize on
  consequence of a nearly automatic                         the assets immigrants bring depends
  process of assimilation. But the truth                    on what we in Los Angeles and
  is that the emergence of unions and                       elsewhere do to insure a reception that
  the strength of business allowed many                     can provide a platform for improved
  immigrants to move from the working                       economic mobility and enhanced civic
  class to the middle class, a strong                       participation. The challenges are large
  investment in education at all levels                     and the tensions are real. But we must
  allowed their children to climb their way                 start somewhere – and the development
  into colleges and the professions, and                    of a new frame for the debate, a focus
  a series of strategies, including social                  on leadership development at all levels,
  security and federal lending programs,                    and a reconfiguration of existing service
  allowed these families and their children                 delivery systems to better fit our new
  to own homes and attain some degree of                    populations can be one such starting
  retirement benefits.                                      point.

  The last several years have seen heated                   Regional business, civic and community
  debate about immigration, particularly                    leaders can embrace this opportunity,
  at the national level. But these fiery                    understanding that improving economic
  conversations about border controls                       mobility for immigrants, enhancing
  and the changing American culture                         their civic participation, and facilitating
  seem to ring hollow when stacked                          a more open and positive native-born
  against our local realities. Regardless                   response to immigrants and their
  of what does or does not happen in                        families will actually benefit us all. Of
  Washington, the future of our region                      course, the real challenge is not simply

                                               -   71   -
                                                                                                     Immigrant Integration
               to describe change or even to point to the            encouraging democratic participation, and
               general directions in which a region and a            maintaining an openness to people and
               nation must go; we also need to have the              ideas. However, it will require
               capacity to implement a new framework                 leadership in an era when other
               with grace, sensitivity, and effectiveness.           institutions, including government, have
                                                                     lost their way. Funders can be an
               Immigrant integration is, after all, not a            important part of that leadership, stirring
               special program or a special interest. It             other actors and institutions as together
               is a common effort that can benefit us                we find our way to a brighter and more
               all even as it resonates with our deepest             inclusive future for all residents.
               values of celebrating economic mobility,

                                                      -     72   -
Immigrant Integration
Appendix: Focus Group Participants

  Immigrant and Community Organization                 Business and Workforce Development
  Group                                                Group
                                                       Susan Alva, Occidental College
  Susan Alva, Migration Policy &
     Resource Center/Occidental College                Angelica Banuelos, Valley
                                                         Economic Development
  Marvin Andrade, CARECEN
                                                       Horacio Bellofiore, California
  Marina Berkman, WeHo
                                                         Specialty Farms
    Comprehensive Service Center
                                                       David Crippens, DLC & Associates
  Aida Cardenas, SEIU 213
                                                       Fernando Denecochea, Southern
  Samuel Chu, Immanuel
                                                          California Edison
     Presbyterian Church
                                                       Paul Garza, Garza Consulting
  Hamid Khan, South Asian Network
                                                       Elizabeth Jimenez, LAUSD
  Linton Joaquin, National
                                                           Achieving A+ Summit
     Immigration Legal Center
                                                       Michael Metzler, Santa Ana
  Hector Aquiles Magana, CARECEN
                                                          Chamber of Commerce
  Alma Morales, LA Voice - PICO
                                                       Ali Modarres, Pat Brown Institute
  Sara Sadhwani, APALC
                                                       Mark Pisano, SCAG
  Angelica Salas, CHIRLA
                                                       David Rattray, LA Area
  Peter Schey, ARCA                                      Chamber of Commerce
  Rhesma Shamasunder, California                       Mari Riddle, Pacific Community
     Immigrant Policy Center                             Ventures
  Lorraine Sharkey, Literacy Network                   Mark Roth, El Burrito Mexican Food
  Melanie Stephens, Centro Latino                      Paul Turner, Southern California North
    for Literacy                                          & Central Regions Citibank
  Najeeba Syeed-Miller, Western                        Charlie Woo, MegaToys
     Justice Center
  Liz Torres, Worksite Wellness Project                Policy and Planning Group

  Carlos Vaquerano, SALEF                              Susan Alva, Migration Policy
                                                          and Resource Center
  Steve Voss, IILA
                                                       Angela Beltran, LA County
  Arturo Ybarra, WCLO                                    Children’s Planning Council
  Grace Yoo, Korean American Coalition                 Dan Flaming, Economic Roundtable
  Dae Joong Yoon, KRC                                  Suzanne Foster, Pomona Economic
                                                          Opportunity Center

                                          -   73   -
                                                                                            Immigrant Integration
               Hassan Hanghani, Director of                     Sandra Martinez, the California
                 Planning for Glendale                             Wellness Foundation
               Nuri Martinez, Pacoima Beautiful                 Margie McHugh, Migration Policy
               Dowell Myers, USC
                                                                Kelly Ocampo, Merage Foundation for
               Katherine Perez, Forest City
                                                                   the American Dream
                                                                Daranee Petsod, GCIR
               Maria Quezada, Forest City Intern
                                                                Bill Pitkin, United Way LA
               Karthick Ramakrishnan, UC Riverside
                                                                Margarita Ramirez, Liberty
               Tom Saenz, LA Mayor’s Office
                                                                  Hill Foundation
               Denise de la Rosa Salazar, Urban
                                                                Greg Ratliff, Bill & Melinda
                 Strategies California
                                                                   Gates Foundation
               Beth Steckler, Livable Places
                                                                Beatriz Solis, The California
               Robin Toma, LA County Human                         Endowment
                  Relations Commission
                                                                Ellen Widess, Rosenberg
               Michael Woo, LA City                                 Foundation
                  Planning Commission
                                                                Joyce Ybarra, Los Angeles Immigrants
                                                                   Funders Collaborative
               Funders Group
               Susan Alva, Migration Policy and                 Labor and Community Organization Group
                  Resource Center
                                                                Pablo Alvarado, NDLON
               Robyn Calder, Liberty Hill
                                                                Rini Chakraborty, Sweatshop Watch
                                                                Sharon Delugach, UCLA Labor Center
               Rebecca Dames, GCIR
                                                                Sandra Gonzales-Castro, SEIU
               Allison DeLucca, GCIR
                                                                Tom Holler, IAF
               Clara Irazabal, USC School of Policy
                  Planning and Development                      Robert Hoo, IAF
               Arron Jiron, Packard Foundation                  Bethany Leal, MIWON
               Mary Grace Karonis, Cathy                        Kimi Lee, Garment Worker Center
                                                                Joann Lo, Enlace
               Stewart Kwoh, APALC
                                                                Maria Loya, LAANE

                                                   -   74   -
Immigrant Integration
Margie McHugh, Migration                            Abel Valenzuela, UCLA
  Policy Institute
                                                    Kent Wong, UCLA Labor Center
Becky Monroe, Bet Tzedek
   Legal Services
                                                    Community Builders Group
Victor Narro, UCLA Labor Center                     Javier Angulo, NALEO
Gaspar Rivera Salgado, UCLA                         Sam Joo, Koreatown Youth
   Labor Center                                        Community Center
John Rogers, UCLA Department                        Lawrence Lue, Chinatow Service
   of Education/IDEA/PLI                               Center
Mari Ryono, Mobilize Immigrant Vote                 Alberto Retana, Community Coalition
Alexia Salvatierra, Clergy and Laity                Paola Ruvalcaba, ELACC
   United for Economic Justice
                                                    Bill Watanabe, Little Tokyo Service
Janna Shadduck-Hernandez,                               Center
   UCLA Labor Center
                                                    Mark Wilson, Coalition for Responsible
Janet Tokumaru, Asian Pacific                         Community Development
   American Labor Alliance

                                       -   75   -
                                                                                          Immigrant Integration
The Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) is a new research unit and part
of the Center for Sustainable Cities at USC. PERE conducts research and facilitates discussions
on issues of environmental justice, regional inclusion and immigrant integration. PERE’s work
is rooted in the new three R’s: rigor, relevance and reach. We conduct high-quality research in
our focus areas that is relevant to public policy concerns and that reaches to those directly affected
communities that most need to be engaged in the discussion. In general, we seek and support direct
collaborations with community-based organizations in research and other activities, trying to forge a
new model of how university and community can work together for the common good.

The Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) has as its mission to remake the
narrative for understanding, and the dialogue for shaping, immigrant integration in America. Our
intent is to identify and evaluate the mutual benefits of immigrant integration for the native-born
and immigrants and to study the pace of the ongoing transformation in different locations, not only
in the past and present but projected into the future. CSII thus brings together three emphases:
scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information
structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to
create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants
and the voting public.

 Program for Environmental and Regional Equity

                    Center for Sustainable Cities

                University of Southern California

              3620 S. Vermont Avenue, KAP 404

                   Los Angeles, CA 90089-0255

                                                                  USC Program for Environmental
   Phone: (213) 821-1325, Fax: (213) 740-5680                                   & Regional Equity


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