Professor Valenzuela holds a joint appointment in the Department of Chicana/o Studies and Urban Planning. His research is primarily concerned with the issues faced by minorities and immigrants in the U.S. His work focuses on three key areas, which are interrelated: 1) immigration and labor markets, 2) poverty and inequality, and 3) immigrant settlement patterns and related services. His work combines ethnographic, in-depth interviews, participant observation, and quantitative methods to document and explain the processes that govern the incorporation of immigrants into U.S. society. He is currently working on several projects looking at low skilled immigrant workers, the role of immigrant workers and disaster relief, and immigrant participation in civil society.
At UCLA, Professor Valenzuela Directs the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty. He teaches courses on immigration and U.S. society, urban poverty and public policy, labor markets, and planning issues in minority communities.
He was born and raised in Los Angeles, earned his BA at UC Berkeley (1986) and obtained his MCP (1988) and Ph.D. (1993) in urban and regional studies from MIT.