Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 - NEWS RELEASE
San Diego – In efforts to make San Diego a more welcoming place for immigrants and new citizens, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today welcomed the City’s first-ever Immigrant Affairs Manager Rita Fernandez.
In February, Mayor Faulconer announced the new position would be added to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget following the release of the Welcoming San Diego Strategic Plan on Immigrant & Refugee Integration – a community-written blueprint for the San Diego region that was spearheaded by the Welcoming San Diego steering committee. Fernandez’s role will be to review the plan’s proposals, guide new policies forward and facilitate the successful integration of immigrants, refugees and new citizens in San Diego.
“San Diego has long been a destination for people in search of opportunity, refugees looking to rebuild their lives, and new citizens who are proud to call America home,” Mayor Faulconer said. “San Diego’s economy, workforce and future growth are connected to our ability to welcome new Americans into our community. That’s why creating this immigrant affairs role was so important, and Rita Fernandez will play a vital part in moving new initiatives forward aimed at helping these new San Diegans interact even more with our city.”
A City of Chula Vista native and 2010 graduate of the University of San Diego, Fernandez was recruited from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Immigrant Affairs Office where she served as the Associate Director working on immigration policy and coordinating programs for L.A.’s immigrant community. Prior to working in Mayor Garcetti's office, Fernandez served in the Washington, D.C., office of Congressman Juan Vargas, who represents the only congressional district on the U.S.-Mexico border in California. Rita is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico City.
“One of San Diego’s greatest strengths is our immigrant and refugee communities. This is who we are as San Diegans and moving forward the recommendations in the Welcoming San Diego Strategic Plan not only recognizes the contributions of new Americans but invests in their success. The experience of Rita Fernandez as the first-ever Immigrant Affairs Manager is what’s needed to build this bridge to benefit all of us. I want to thank everyone who contributed to bringing us to this historic point,” said San Diego City Council President, Georgette Gómez.
With more than 800,000 immigrants throughout the region, one in four San Diego County residents is an immigrant. In 2016 San Diego County immigrant households contributed $7.5 billion in federal taxes, $2.1 billion in state and local taxes, and leveraged $16.3 billion in spending power. Immigrant entrepreneurs generated $1.4 billion in business income for the region. The top five countries of origin for immigrants in San Diego County are China, Iraq, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam.
“It is an incredible honor to have been selected to serve the City of San Diego as its first-ever Immigrant Affairs Manager. As a native of San Diego County and daughter of immigrants myself, I know this will be a humbling opportunity to support the region’s immigrant population,” Fernandez said. “In the coming weeks, I look forward to speaking with community leaders and stakeholders about laying the groundwork for immigrant integration work in San Diego. I would like to thank Mayor Faulconer, Council President Gómez and the Welcoming San Diego steering committee for working together and releasing an ambitious strategic plan to welcome immigrant and refugee communities.”