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KPBS Midday Edition

Meet the head of San Diego's new Office of Immigrant Affairs

San Diego Immigrant Affairs Manager Rita Fernandez appears in this undated photo
City of San Diego
Rita Fernandez, the executive director of San Diego's Office of Immigrant Affairs, is pictured in this undated photo.

The city of San Diego’s immigrant community now has its own city agency.

In early July, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced the formation of a new Office of Immigrant Affairs meant to help address the needs of the city's immigrant community. The Mayor appointed Rita Fernandez to lead the newly formed office.

"We have a very diverse immigrant community in San Diego," Fernandez said. "About a quarter of our overall population is foreign born, and these folks come from all corners of the world. They represent over 115 countries and territories around the globe and speak over 75 different languages and dialects."

The executive director joined Midday Edition Wednesday to talk about how her personal experiences connect with the overall goal of the office to better assist immigrants as they build a life in San Diego.

"It's very near and dear to my heart," Fernandez said. "Both my parents are Mexican immigrants. They are the descendants of a long line of immigrants. My great grandmother was actually the daughter of Chinese immigrants in Mexico. And so it's such an important job. We have our work cut out for us, but it's an absolutely crucial mission for the city of San Diego."