Alida Garcia On Immigration Reform Being About People Not Votes

Alida Garcia is tired of seeing Democrats use immigration reform as a bargaining chip to win the Latino vote. At PowerPAC+’s Race Will Win the Race conference, Alida speaks up for the countless families and communities impacted by our broken immigration system and challenges progressive leaders to go beyond campaign promises to enact meaningful immigration policy change.

Alida Garcia is the former National Latino Vote Deputy Director of Obama for America, and is currently the Director of Policy and Coalitions for

This video is a part of the series Replay: Race Will Win the Race.

Policy, not just promises:

“There is a huge difference in saying ‘We need to support immigration reform so that we get Latino votes in the fall,’ versus ‘We need to actively push for reforming our broken immigration system to continue building our relationship with Latino voters who we value as human beings, and whom we admit we are not doing a good job at engaging civically, and they are vital to the health of our democracy.’ So often we get caught up in trying to win and building power, but what are we winning for? We’re winning for the opportunity to enact policies. If we’re not doing that, we’re just as bad as the other side.”

‘Leaning In’ on immigration reform

“The other side is really good at saying really awful things. I worked for the President, and when Mitt Romney calls for self-deportation and that SB-1070 should be the law of the land, it’s much easier to run an opposition campaign based on these statements, but we need to be backing it up. We need to be leaning in. And leaning in happens. Just an hour ago, a fabulous attorney general who I volunteered for for 25 months just sent out a memo saying ICE detainers, local law enforcement, you might get sued. And that’s leaning in. Leaning in is not letting DREAMers get arrested in your office when they’re staging a sit-in trying to get you to call out the President on deportation.”

Alida GarciaThe broad reach of immigration policy

“We need to talk about immigration as it intersects to all of the policies – as it intersects to economic justice and access to just the current minimum wage – forget raising it, just getting the current one we have now. Or access to reproductive health. If there’s a woman at a border who can’t travel outside of El Paso because there’s border checkpoints from the border to a hundred miles in, and she can’t get to a health clinic, that’s a reproductive justice issue.

Immigration reform’s family ties

“61% of Latino voters know an undocumented immigrant, and for 30% of those, that undocumented immigrant is in their family. So while we’re thinking ‘OK, Latino voters, they aren’t undocumented obviously because they’re citizens and they can vote,’ we forget that this is far more integrated into the fabrics of our communities and how we’re talking to the family unit, and why that impacts them going to the polls.”

Tough love for Obama’s immigration policy

“The President, who I’ve worked for two cycles and I love dearly, has deported 2 million people, and we need to get honest about that. And the numbers reflect that. In January 2013, Latino support of President Obama, from then to now, has dropped 67% to 44%. This is serious, this is because we’re not stupid, this is because we’re seeing what’s happening in our communities.”

Leadership matters

“Leadership is not winning, leadership is enacting policies. Latinos as voters are not stupid, and they want to be talked to as whole individuals with understanding of their communities and their families. There’s a lot of pain that’s happened over the last ten years, particularly on this issue, and progressives need to be at the table proactively fighting on this issue.”



  1. Theresa says

    Ms, Garcia,

    What is your stance on ILLEGAL immigration?
    Why do democrats care more about non-citizens than citizens?
    Why do you feel it is ok to give illegals or non-citizens more benefits than US citizens?
    Zuckerburg, one of the richest men alive wants cheaper labor?
    Why? Does that not go against the talking points of all democrats?
    What is your opinion of Hillary? Is she a hypocrite?
    Why do you feel we should hire foreign workers when we have so many unemployed?
    Our colleges and universities have gotten so hard to get into for average US citizens yet they are full. How can we NOT have talented skilled US citizens here in US already?
    Are foreign workers cheaper? If so how can you argue the minimum wage increase and increase in benefits at same time for workers?
    What about income inequality?
    Do you know how much it is for a middle class family to send their children to college? How much is it after all the grants, federal and state support for low income families? How much of those grants and aid comes from the unemployed US citizens? Do you know how hard it is to get a student loan?
    Isn’t it true that the more undocumented people we let stay the more will follow? When does it end?
    When does this country gets its feet back on the ground? We are not going to sustain ourselves and every other Latino country for ever?

    Your response would be greatly appreciated especially since I feel that most liberal progressive democrats are actually traitors. Maybe you can change my mind on the issues above. Maybe.

    We must (US citizens) take care of ourselves in order to be fit for service to others …. We are NOT fit and we are being taken advantage of. We WILL be Greece, Puerto Rico, Italy, Argentina, etc very soon. Who will then take care of anybody?

    Theresa DiNapoli
    single hard working mother of three (17, 16 and 10)

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