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 FWD.us.
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.”
“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 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.”