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The UCLA Immigration Data Lab

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In the fall quarter of 2017 I created The UCLA Immigration Data Lab which had four main objectives: 1) to create a comprehensive database of city council racial and gender composition through time and immigrant context in the largest 500 U.S. municipalities 2) to gather a strong understanding of immigrant politics on the ground in a select group of cities through case studies 3) to foster professional relationships with and between undergraduate students beyond the conventional classroom setting and 4) to provide training to undergraduate students on data collection and data science topics.


This applied research has been supported by my dissertation chair - Matt Barreto, the Princeton Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, the APSA Centennial Center and the APSA Fund for Latino Scholarship. The first quarter of the the lab had 14 collaborators, mostly women and Latinas who were first generation college students. I continued organizing the lab for 5 subsequent quarters pre-pandemic with collaboration fluctuating between 10-17 students per quarter. In the Spring of 2022 I officially hosted the lab once again following great interest from motivated and brilliant UCLA students. 

Get to know them below!


Meet The Spring 2022 Collaborators!


Alessandra (Ally) Poggi-Li

Ally is a third-year Political Science major — with a focus on international relations— and a History minor at UCLA. She is currently studying how religion is intertwined with politics, and the unique role faith plays in informing national and international political playing fields. More specifically, focusing on the historical implications of the United States’ relationship with Christianity and how that has affected the American judicial system into the present day. 


Born and raised in San Francisco, Poggi-Li is passionate about Asian American political engagement in the Bay Area. Recently she's concentrated on learning more about local politics with both research and a hands-on approach. Ally has also worked at phone banks for numerous local and national left-leaning politicians and served as a poll worker within the Bay Area. She hopes to continue to look for more opportunities to research and engage with the political process within and out of college!


Emily Rusting

Emily is a second-year Political Science and History double major. Her areas of research interest include elections and American politics. Specifically, she is interested in how historical, systemic and cultural factors shape policy decisions at a group and individual level. She hopes to complete an original research project during her next two years at UCLA.


On campus, Emily is involved with Bruin Political Union, a club that fosters healthy discourse between differing political perspectives. She also plays flute in the UCLA Marching Band, volunteers teaching creative writing with the Writers’ Den, and is the Director of Service for UCLA’s chapter of the national honorary band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi. She is excited to be involved with the important work that happens at the Immigration Data Lab!


Daniel Zahzouhi

Daniel Zahzouhi is a recent UCLA Political Science graduate currently jump-starting his career as a Research Analyst with Law Business Research. Hailing from Queens, New York, Daniel is an Eagle Scout who strives to make a positive impact on his community. Prior to attending UCLA, Daniel was a Discipulus (student) at The Brooklyn Latin School, a unique specialized high school in Williamsburg that focuses on delivering a holistic, classical education through the Socratic Method. As a Discipulus at TBLS, Daniel was taught to embrace critical thinking, question sources, and engage in public speaking.


After four years of studying Latin and engaging in countless Socratic seminars, declamations (public recitals), essays, and lab reports, Daniel was able to attain two high school diplomas: the NY State Advanced Regents Diploma as well as the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Daniel is interested in the applications of social science to the political and corporate world. As such, Daniel pursued and successfully completed his BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. Daniel's main interests lie in political economy and grand strategy.

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Danna Castro Galindo

Danna Castro Galindo is a rising junior at UCLA double majoring in Political Science and International Development Studies with a minor in European Languages & Transcultural Studies with French. Danna is originally from Colombia and plans to use her future career to continue advocating for immigrant and minority rights. Danna spent the last year working as the Internship Coordinator for UCLA’s MEChA Calmécac, teaching a class centered on increasing retention rates amongst Latine students, helping research the impact of national immigration policies on local city politics, and being an active member of UCLA’s American Indian Student



In the past, Danna also interned with the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice where she helped connect detained undocumented immigrants with pro bono attorneys

and conducted preliminary legal intakes. Currently, Danna is interning with UC Berkeley’s Labor Studies Center, where she is advocating for tenants’ rights in the East Bay, as well as with BSP Research - a political consulting firm focused on increasing Latine representation within political

campaigns. Danna is excited to grow her research experience and can be contacted via email at


Darlin Navarrete

Darlin Navarrete is first generation DACA student and second-year transfer majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics at UCLA. Being an honors student, Navarrete enjoys an academic challenge and aspires to attend law school and become an immigration attorney. Working alongside Ana Oaxaca, Navarrete has been able to apply and expand her skill set while pursuing her interest in the study of immigration.


Her passion for minority rights and representation began at a very young age where she identified injustices her family encountered and used them as outlets to expand her knowledge on immigrant rights and educate her family. Outside of academia, Navarrete loves spending time with her family, working on cars, and doing community service. 


Luis Del Toro

Luis Del Toro is a UCLA alumnus with a bachelor's degree in Political Science who is passionate about environmental justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and immigration rights. Being a first-generation student has enabled him to realize the need to fight against institutions that continue to hinder low-income immigrant families from receiving higher education. As a result, he has participated in work that aids these communities specifically, working as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm translating for Spanish speakers and paralegal work.


Del Toro hopes to gain more experience with environmental and immigration research, grassroots organizing, and working with nonprofit organizations. His long-term goals include working in a criminal immigration law firm and becoming a congress member in the Senate to help create reform within the established institutions.


Orlando Ibarra

Orlando Ibarra Hernandez was born in Zacatecas, Mexico before he immigrated to Southern California at the age of 1. As a DACA recipient, Orlando was able to enter his higher education at Riverside City College to which he went on to major and graduate from UCLA in Political Science with a Minor in Film and Television. Public Policy and Politics, especially those that involve his community, have always been his biggest passions.


During his last year at UCLA, Orlando worked as a research assistant covering local Los Angeles County political attitudes towards immigration and hoped to find trends amongst city leaders on their views of immigration. Leading up to and after his graduation, Orlando has worked in local petition efforts for the non-profit Healthy Streets LA to make Los Angeles a much greener city and has led canvassing efforts with Black Futures Lab.


Orlando has aspirations to attend UCLA Law School and focus on immigration law but is also passionate about mobilizing voters with campaigning efforts. In the near future, Orlando will be working in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections campaigning for local and state candidates in California.

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Paula Zepeda

Paula Zepeda is a first-generation third year student at UCLA majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. She is a Hispanic who currently resides in Southern California. As the first in her family to attend a university, Paula has been exploring the various resources UCLA offers and has currently found great interest in research.


Zepeda has engaged in research projects where she can better understand the issues the immigrant community is facing in Los Angeles and the United States. Being a part of Oaxaca's research, she has developed a greater awareness of the struggles minority groups face daily here in Southern California. Overall, she is committed to expanding the global perspective on the sociopolitical problems they experience through her contributions in introducing new insights from data analysis in the research project. After graduation, Paula plans to attend law school and directly assist people whose constitutional rights are violated. 


Valeria Chavez Nunez

Valeria Chavez Nunez is a fourth-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds an AA degree in Political Science and Sociology from Pasadena City College, and will soon complete her BA in Political Science and History— with a concentration in American Politics and an interest in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. 


After graduating in the Spring of 2023, Valeria intends to enroll in a Master of Arts in Teaching program to pursue a career in education and community building in school districts that predominantly serve students of color or low-income communities.


Her experience as a first-generation immigrant and DACA student has sparked her interest in the politics and organization of marginalized communities, specifically surrounding immigrant and Latino communities. Along with aspirations to become an educator, Valeria plans to continue her involvement with local grassroots organizations and political organizing throughout her professional career

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