- Run by progressive labor leaders
- Works to naturalize new citizens, register new voters, use the U.S. Census as a redistributive mechanism
The Mi Familia Vota Education Fund (MFV) is a self-described “social and economic justice” organization established by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) official Eliseo Medina, who today serves as MFV’s treasurer. With offices located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Texas, MFV’s mission is to “provide Latino immigrants a voice in our country’s democratic process by developing and making available the tools necessary for immigrants to become citizens, for citizens to become voters and for voters to become active participants in our country’s democratic process for years to come.” Toward these ends, MFV strives to:
- expand the Hispanic electorate through “issue organizing,” citizenship and voter-registration drives, census education, and get-out-the-vote campaigns;
- establish and cultivate “key alliances at national, state and local levels to increase civic engagement”;
- provide technical assistance and support to likeminded groups; and
- increase public support for “full civic participation in Latino and immigrant communities.”
MFV’s earliest roots can be traced back to 1998, when Eliseo Medina’s SEIU founded the Organization of Los Angeles Workers (OLAW) to “expand the voice of the Latino community through civic education, citizenship, and voter-registration and -mobilization campaigns.” Through a project called ”Mi Familia Vota 100%,” OLAW sought to “creat[e] a culture of civic engagement and activism” by building partnerships with business, labor, religious, community, and ethnic media organizations. To help maximize the influence of these efforts, OLAW hired and trained people in such skills as community organizing, media relations, and campaign management. By 2004, OLAW had formally adopted the name Mi Familia Vota.
Today MFV supports “comprehensive immigration reform” that includes a “path to citizenship” for the millions of illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. Moreover, it opposes any law that seeks to curb the rights or benefits of those illegals. For instance:
- It has referred to Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot initiative that barred state and local agencies from providing social services to illegal immigrants in California, as “a xenophobic discriminatory ploy” that “demonized all immigrants” and “unfairly targeted immigrants and Latinos for political gain.”
- In 2005-06, MFV participated actively in the successful fight to defeat HR 4437, a bill proposed by Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, which would have made it a felony for anyone to reside in the U.S. illegally, or for any citizen to assist such individuals in doing so.
- In 2010, MFV condemned the “anti-immigrant sentiment” that purportedly underpinned SB 1070, an Arizona law which authorized state police to check with federal authorities on the immigration status of suspects who had been stopped or apprehened in connection with some other crime.
In 2006, MFV participated in a campaign known as Ya Es Hora—meaning “Now Is the Time”—whose objective was to motivate 1 million Latino legal permanent residents in the U.S. to apply for citizenship and then vote in the 2006 and 2008 federal elections. MFV’s major partners in this endeavor were Univision, Entravisión Communications, ImpreMedia, the NALEO Education Fund, the National Council of La Raza, and the SEIU.
In 2009, the Ya Es Hora campaign lengthened its name to Ya Es Hora: Hágase Contar—meaning “Now Is the Time: Make Yourself Count”—whose mission was to naturalize new citizens, register voters, and use the 2010 Census to redistribute wealth and government benefits in the direction of Mexican immigrants. After the Census, this campaign shifted its focus to voter turnout in the 2010 midterm elections, and thus again changed its name to Ya Es Hora, Ve y Vota (“Now is the Time, Go and Vote”).
In October 2010 the Yuma Sun reported that MFV and an allied organization, One Vote Arizona, had submitted more than 3,000 voter registrations in Yuma County, Arizona—located in the congressional district where Rep. Raul Grijalva was caught in a tight race with Republican challenger Ruth McClung—immediately before the deadline for registering voters. More than 65% of those registrations were invalid because they bore false or invalid addresses or signatures, or because the registrants were not U.S. citizens.
In January 2014, MFV and the National Council of La Raza jointly waged a “Mobilize to Vote 2014” initiative whose goal was to register (by mail) at least 250,000 new Hispanic voters for that year’s midterm elections. The mailings targeted the entire Hispanic voting-age population in the U.S., with particular emphasis on newly eligible 18-year-olds as well as previously registered voters who had relocated and thus needed to re-register. Geographically, the mailings focused on potential voters in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Florida, and California.
Ben Monterroso has served as MFV’s national executive director since 2006. He has also worked for the SEIU in a number of different capacities—including special assistant to Eliseo Medina—since 1981. In 1994 Monterroso was deputy director of the Campaign Against Proposition 187.
In recent years, MFV has received funding from the Denver Foundation, the Gill Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Norman Foundation, and the Overbrook Foundation.