Garcetti To Immigration Advocates: 'This Is The Time To Act'
The Council voted 12-0 earlier that day in favor of Garcetti's motion to staff a new office that would handle issues concerning L.A.'s immigrant population such as access to city services and benefits. The office was proposed by Garcetti in 2002 and established in 2004 during then-Mayor James Hahn's time in office, but has been inactive in recent years.
Garcetti said the goal of having the office up and running sometime during the spring coincides with a bi-partisan effort in the U.S. Senate to finalize new immigration laws that would establish a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
"At this moment, with comprehensive immigration reform coming on board, there's a real opportunity to re-establish this in the mayor's office to make sure all departments are cued up," Garcetti said. "This is the time to act, and we will help lead the way."
With L.A. still trying to chip away at a $200 million deficit, Garcetti said the city is "not looking for new money" to establish the office.
"There's always a cost, but I think we can do it with existing resources, shifting some of the programs we currently have and shifting existing dollars," Garcetti said.
Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said an immigrant affairs office would be instrumental in helping young undocumented immigrants eligible for President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program avoid being exploited by fraudulent immigration consultants.
"Right away, we saw a lot of unscrupulous actors trying to take advantage of their incredible need," Salas said. "This is a time to help them, not to take advantage of them and their parents."
Members from CHIRLA were joined by the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamerica at the afternoon news conference conducted in English and Spanish. With less than two weeks before Angelenos vote for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's successor, the candidates have ramped up efforts to court Latino voters.
Garcetti was the first candidate to debut a Spanish-language television ad. His campaign spent about $120,000 last week airing commercials on Spanish-language stations Telemundo and Univision. Latinos could account for between 21 to 26 percent of the electorate in the upcoming election.
Garcetti is currently running close with L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel as the March 5 primary approaches. The top two finishers compete in a May runoff if the winning candidate fails to secure more than 50 percent of the vote.
Find more Neon Tommy coverage of Eric Garcetti here.