Immigration Experts Call for Unity to Protect Dreamers Panelists shared their experiences at launch event for latest issue of UCLA Blueprint magazine

By Jonathan Van Dyke

As the country reckons with President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, expert panelists discussing immigration at a UCLA event Sept. 12, 2017, noted that now is the time for everyone who supports immigration reform to advocate for legislation that would protect those who are undocumented.

“I feel 100 percent protected at this point,” said Marcela Zhou, a UCLA medical student who is undocumented, as part of the discussion held at the Cross Campus gathering space in downtown Los Angeles. “But we really need the support from the community to continue fighting.”

Zhou was speaking as part of “Public Discussion: L.A. Leaders on Immigration and Civic Action,” which included immigration experts from UCLA and beyond, all trying to make sense of what transpired a week ago and what needs to be done now.

Hosted by the policy magazine UCLA Blueprint, in conjunction with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA Advocacy, the discussion featured Abel Valenzuela, professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin and director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment; Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium; Maria Elena Durazo, longtime Los Angeles labor leader and immigration activist; and Zhou. Blueprint editor-in-chief Jim Newton, who is also a lecturer in public policy at UCLA Luskin, moderated.

On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced its decision to rescind DACA in six months, a move that would affect nearly 800,000 young adults across the country. These people, who are often called Dreamers, were typically brought to the United States as children, and have worked to gain access to higher education and a job, while maintaining a clean legal record (no felonies or major misdemeanors).

Valenzuela, who is also a professor of Chicana and Chicano studies, and has authored numerous work on day labor and immigrant labor markets, lamented that it “took years to get [President Barack] Obama to finally change his mind” and create DACA. Rescinding the order is “not politics as usual in any way,” he said.

Durazo’s experience has spanned decades, working in the hotel employees and restaurant employees union back in 1983, and then as the vice president for UNITE HERE International Union. In 2003 she became national director of the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride, a campaign to address immigration laws, and from 2006 to 2015 she was the first woman elected executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

All that experience leads her to the belief that the public needs to examine the immigration issue beyond just the current administration.

Despite their concerns, the panelists implored the crowd to remain positive. The event comes on the heels of a push by UC system leadership to convince members of the House and Senate from California to get an immigration reform bill through Congress.

Yoon just returned from a 22-day vigil in front of the White House. There, he spoke to many non-immigrants. Yoon said he was hopeful because many were able to open up their minds on the issue.

He was part of the founding of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium in 1994, with successful campaigns including the “Justice for Immigrants” Washington Post ad campaign that opposed anti-immigration legislation. Now, efforts must be focused on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that protects those eligible for DACA.

“It’s their lives and future, and that future is in danger,” Yoon said. “This is a great opportunity to really pass the DREAM Act.”

Durazo called for business and education leaders to amplify the message of Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reform.

In the spring, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block formed an Immigration Advisory Council, on which Valenzuela serves, and the campus and UC system have supported immigrant students.

“There’s a lot we can do,” Valenzuela said. “Their history on our campus is real.” The council will continue to do what it can to mitigate fallout from federal immigration decisions, he added.

For the civically minded in the crowd, the panelists said there is no time like the present.

“Organizing at the street level is what I think is the next answer,” Valenzuela said.

“We’ve been on the defense for so long,” Yoon said. “Now we have something we want to push for.”

To change the narrative on DACA and immigration issues, Zhou said everyone can contribute, and that “organizing is huge.” Think about the terms you use when discussing these issues, she said.

“I am sort of the medical student people talk about positively in their narrative,” but what about field workers and others, she wondered.

Zhou, who was born in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, but to Chinese parents, moved to Calexico, California. when she was 12. Her story defies easy categorization — 100 percent Chinese, but a native Spanish speaker.

Zhou questioned why it was easy for her as someone who looks Asian to walk along checkpoints, even though she’s also from Mexico.

Durazo said she has been out in the community providing resources, including pamphlets detailing how to deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. She noted that anyone can do something, for example learning to help with citizenship tests. “Everyone here can be a volunteer in providing these services. The push is to not settle for anything less.”

Inequality is Focus of New Issue of Blueprint Income and wealth inequality is the focus of the newly release issue of Blueprint

By Stan Paul

Income and wealth inequality is the focus of the newly released issue of Blueprint, a UCLA partnership with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

The second edition is once again led by editor-in-chief, Jim Newton, a 25-year veteran reporter and editor for the Los Angeles Times.

“American inequality decreased in the 1950s, only to explode in the 1970s and ’80s and to expand yet again during the recent recession,” writes Newton in the introduction.

Included in the Fall 2015 “Table Talk” section is an interview with economics Nobel Laureate and former presidential adviser, Joseph Stiglitz, author of the influential 2012 book, The Price of Inequality. Los Angeles Times editorial writer and deputy editorial page editor, Jon Healey, interviewed Stiglitz on subjects ranging from taxes and growth since the great recession to minimum wage and basic fairness.

“…we have become one of the nations among the advanced countries with the least opportunity. In the United States, the life chances of young people are more dependent on the income and education of their parents than in almost any other advanced country,” Stiglitz comments.

Research and profiles by noted journalists and scholars in this second edition include a look at leadership in Los Angeles, the physical suffering of the poor, unequal schools, wages and the middle class, and economic growth. Blueprint’s “Landscape” section includes writing on voter turnout (by Newton) as well as pieces on the working poor and same-sex marriage.

“We are more about conversations, writes Newton, adding, “I hope the pieces contained here will start some of those conversations, as policy makers and others who care about society consider inequality and how it shapes neighborhoods and destinies. Few questions more define our history; few are more important to consider and address.”

A public discussion led by Jim Newton is set for Oct. 21 at the California Endowment in Los Angeles. Scheduled discussants are: former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Homeboy Industries’ Father Greg Boyle and the California Endowment’s Robert Ross.

For more information and registration, please go to:

Read the newly released second edition online at:


New Magazine Adds to LA’s Policy Conversation UCLA Blueprint, a new magazine bringing together policy research and civic leadership, debuted at a Wednesday event


By Cynthia Lee
UCLA Newsroom

UCLA has launched a new magazine that aims to inform ongoing conversations on major public policy issues facing Los Angeles and California, serve as a public resource and highlight relevant campus research.

UCLA Blueprint — written and edited by veteran journalists and astute observers of local and state government — debuted this week with an issue focused on public safety and criminal justice. The magazine is a partnership between the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA External Affairs, whose public outreach programs facilitate the campus’s role in addressing societal challenges.

At a Wednesday night event marking the magazine’s inaugural issue, Chancellor Gene Block said civic engagement has been one of his top priorities since the beginning of his administration. “UCLA engages with the greater Los Angeles community in myriad ways. And I am delighted to say that the launch of UCLA Blueprint is very much in keeping with our ongoing civic engagement efforts…. It’s dazzling in every way.”

Among the guests celebrating the launch of Blueprint was former California Gov. Gray Davis (left), standing with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Newton.

About 125 guests attended the event at the Chancellor’s Residence, including community and business leaders, UCLA administrators and faculty, journalists and government officials. Among them were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former California Gov. Gray Davis, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, City Controller Ron Galperin and Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Paul Krekorian and Bernard Parks.

The event featured a wide-ranging conversation between Garcetti and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Jim Newton, covering crime, the mayor’s extensive use of real-time data and metrics to monitor the pulse of the city, Los Angeles’ booming tech sector, the recent minimum-wage increase and other topics in the news.

Newton is a former Los Angeles Times writer and editor of 25 years, the author of biographies on Earl Warren and Dwight Eisenhower, and a co-author of a memoir with Leon Panetta.  He said before the event that the magazine is intended to strengthen UCLA’s ties to civic life and share faculty expertise in a way that serves the greater good.

“Much of the work of city, county and state government in California is now done without the benefit of serious research,” said Newton, a senior fellow at the Luskin School and lecturer in communication studies, where he teaches courses on journalism ethics and writing. “Largely, that’s a product of budgets — governments just don’t have the kind of research capacity they used to have. By bringing UCLA research to the attention of policymakers, better policy can be made.”

In the editor’s note in the first issue, Newton wrote that he spent more than two decades “watching sausage being made in city, county and state government (and occasionally the school board), often baffled by the basis for decisions. Why doesn’t the subway go to the airport? Why does the region capture so little rainwater? Why do some drug offenders spend more time in prison than those convicted of violent crimes? The poison in each case is politics. The antidote is research.”

Newton emphasized before Wednesday’s event that Blueprint is not an academic journal. “We’re striving to make it serious and journalistic, a general-interest magazine that’s accessible to people beyond the core policy community,” he said. “This is a region that is famously disengaged on matters of serious government policy, and this magazine is intended to draw people into those conversations and give them the information they need to help them participate.”

Replete with bold, attention-getting graphics, the first issue of Blueprint takes a sweeping look at criminal justice and public safety from a variety of entry points. Beck, the LAPD’s top cop, talks about how policing has changed. UCLA Luskin researcher Michael Stoll reveals what’s behind the surge in the U.S. prison population. UCLA psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff explains how he measures hidden racial bias in law enforcement. And in a Q&A, California Attorney General Kamala Harris talks about the biggest challenge she has faced in fixing the state criminal justice system.

There’s also a profile of a community activist whose call for reform of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been transformed into a rallying cry among protesters nationwide — “Black lives matter.”

Newton said the debut issue addresses criminal justice and public safety because police use of force is increasingly in the headlines and because the topics are familiar to him — he covered the LAPD as a reporter for five years.

In the discussion Wednesday, Garcetti reflected on the recent unrest in Baltimore and L.A.’s own problems.

“We had Rodney King.… We had the consent decree. We had Ramparts,” he said. “It is through the trauma that we went through that Los Angeles is a more resilient city and [has] a more resilient [police] department.… What a police chief says, what a mayor does, who we collectively are as a city in moments of potential trauma is, first and foremost, what good policing — good public safety — is all about.”

Blueprint’s second issue, due out this fall, will focus on economic and social inequality and include an interview with Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a Columbia University economist and respected author. Newton said he hopes the magazine will grow into a quarterly publication, and he plans to hold public events to extend the discourse around each new issue.

“Not only are we trying to create a conversation online and in print,” Newton said, “but a literal conversation where we will gather together policymakers, journalists, academics and other thoughtful people and hope that they learn from each other.”


Former Secretary of Defense Discusses Career and Current Policy Issues Leon Panetta discusses international policy at UCLA


By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Former Secretary of Defense and past CIA Director Leon Panetta spoke to a full house at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall on Monday, March 30.

Appropriately titled, “A Conversation With Leon Panetta,” the intimate atmosphere of the event gave the audience an opportunity to listen and interact with the man who ended the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, blocked offshore oil drilling on the West Coast, and, perhaps most memorably, directed the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Poised comfortably on an armchair facing the audience, Panetta discussed his life, work and perspective on current policy issues in response to questions moderated by UCLA Luskin Senior Fellow Jim Newton.

Panetta opened the evening with stories from his personal life, from growing up in an immigrant family to serving in the army and eventually entering the political arena. Panetta started his political career as a legislative assistant under Republican Senator Thomas Kuchel. When asked why he switched parties, Panetta explained that at the same time he was working to implement desegregation of schools in the South as director of the Office of Civil Rights, President Nixon agreed to back down on strong civil rights enforcement in return for support from Southern Republicans.

“One day, I woke up and one of the papers in Washington had a story that I resigned [though I had not] . . . I became a Democrat soon after that,” Panetta said, garnering laughter from the audience.

The conversation soon turned towards policy, and Panetta offered his critique of the current situation in Washington.

“My greatest fear is that I see a Washington that’s dysfunctional, that’s in gridlock . . .” said Panetta. “We are a country that’s facing terrible issues – this is a time where they ought to be governing, not simply blocking things from happening.”

Panetta emphasized repeatedly that the inability of the government to make decisions about policy issues is severely hurting the country.

“The best thing you can do is to make the right decision, the next best thing is to make the wrong decision, and the worst thing is to make no decision,” Panetta said, paraphrasing Theodore Roosevelt. “You don’t allow the American people, or our security, be hurt deliberately by failing to act.”

Held as a co-presentation of the Luskin Lecture Series and the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture, Panetta’s appearance was preceded by introductory speeches from Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., and Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl and head of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Pearl reminded the audience that this event was created to honor the life and work of his son, whose pursuit of truth in journalism led to his abduction and murder by terrorists in early 2002.

The Pearl Memorial Lecture is held annually at UCLA and Stanford in order to highlight figures who uphold Daniel Pearl’s lifelong cause to preserve truth, integrity, and transparency for all.

“Danny was a journalist in search of what is so often the first victim of war – truth,” Panetta remarked. “He is remembered as a symbol of hope . . . and his cause lives on in the Daniel Pearl Foundation.”

UCLA Luskin, the UCLA Burkle Center, UCLA Hillel, and the Daniel Pearl Foundation worked in conjunction to put on the Schoenberg Hall event. A podcast of the event is available here.