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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
SAN DIEGO – With the goal of promoting an immigrant-inclusive lens in the City of San Diego and helping advance access to economic opportunity for all San Diegans, Mayor Todd Gloria announced the creation of the City’s new Office of Immigrant Affairs, which launched July 1 as part of Mayor Gloria’s Fiscal Year 2023 “Ready to Rebuild” budget.
With the creation of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, Mayor Gloria has appointed Rita Fernandez, the Mayor’s current Director of Global Affairs, to serve as the Office’s first Executive Director. Additional staff members for the Office will be hired in the new fiscal year.
“Immigrants are an important part of our community, but often feel disconnected or unsupported by their city government. That’s why I’ve created the Office of Immigrant Affairs, which strives to welcome immigrants to San Diego and make sure that their voice is heard by City Hall,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “This office will help us promote inclusivity, ease the transition for immigrants and help them feel supported as part of our community. I’m grateful to Rita Fernandez for stepping up to lead this work and am confident her expertise will be a benefit to all our city’s immigrants.”
In addition to implementing the Welcoming San Diego strategic plan, the new Office of Immigrant Affairs will focus on workforce development for the immigrant population, promoting inclusive resources to help foreign-born communities through the integration process, advocating for immigrant rights, and developing a language access plan to provide translation and interpretation services for City programs and services.
As a native of Chula Vista and graduate of the University of San Diego, and the daughter of immigrants, the Office’s new Director brings a unique perspective to her new role.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to build out an Office of Immigrant Affairs that will support all of our diverse immigrant communities in San Diego, which represent more than 115 countries around the world,” said Rita Fernandez, Executive Director, Office of Immigrant Affairs. “The City of San Diego is committed to expanding resources and improving services for our city’s immigrants and I am proud to be part of this effort. I am grateful to Mayor Gloria for appointing me to this role and celebrate his vision, leadership and commitment to making us a truly welcoming city.”
Fernandez was appointed to serve as Immigrant Affairs Manager after the City first launched the Welcoming San Diego strategic plan and Initiative in 2019. Prior to working for the City of San Diego, Fernandez worked as Associate Director in the Immigrant Affairs Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and served in the Washington D.C. office of Congressman Juan Vargas, who currently represents the only congressional district on the U.S.-Mexico border in California.
Stepping into the role as the Mayor’s Director of Global Affairs is Javier Gomez, who brings five years of experience previously working in the California State Assembly and more recently as Mayor Gloria’s Senior Advisor of Policy and Council Affairs.
“I’m honored the Mayor has selected me as his Director of Global Affairs. I’m excited to expand and elevate San Diego’s global profile and work with our foreign partners around the world to ensure we are promoting the many aspects that make San Diego so unique,” said Javier Gomez, Mayor Gloria’s Director of Global Affairs. “I look forward to continuing to partner with Tijuana to further strengthen our binational region and attract more foreign direct investment to San Diego. I want people to see the U.S./Mexico border as more than just an economic driver. At its core, our border isn’t about how much money it brings to our region, it’s about the people that live, work, go to school and access healthcare on both sides of the border.”
Welcoming San Diego was launched in 2019 as a City-led initiative designed to advance the civic, social and economic integration of immigrants and refugees. The Welcoming San Diego strategic plan was developed in collaboration with local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and businesses to serve as a community blueprint for the San Diego region. To learn more about the initiative, visit sandiego.gov/welcomingsd.