Founded in 2004, the now-defunct Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV) coalition described itself as “a California statewide nonpartisan alliance” dedicated to “building a movement of low-income immigrant and New American communities of color.” Specifically, it sought to “harnes[s]” the “voting power” of nonwhite immigrants in order to “improve [their] living conditions” and “achieve systems change across California and nationwide.” By MIV’s calculus, the conversion of vast numbers of immigrants—legal and illegal alike—into registered voters, would promote the development of “a just, democratic California … in which migrants and all peoples are full and equal citizens” who can freely enjoy the many benefits of “democracy for all”—including voting rights—“regardless of immigration status.” Underlying this agenda was MIV’s knowledge that the vast majority of nonwhite immigrants to the U.S. tend to vote for Democratic candidates.
MIV was established by five female leaders of immigrant-rights organizations—Maria Rogers Pascual, Patricia Diaz, Angelica Salas, Sheila Chung Hagen, and Cathi Tactaquin—along with Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace. The immediate objective of these founders was to “close the gap in representation of low-income immigrants and New Americans of color in electoral participation in California.”
On the premise that “immigrants fully participate in our society and contribute to our economic health,” MIV maintained that it was in America’s national interest to offer them “a safe haven from persecution”—whether by foreign oppressors or by domestic immigration authorities. “We all lose out when immigrants, refugees and asylees are denied full citizenship,” said the alliance. Specifically, MIV advocated “a fair path to citizenship without costly fees and fines, with special emphasis on reuniting families as simply and quickly as possible”; an expansion of “naturalization services, ESL classes, and language-accessible materials and services”; “an immediate end to … [workplace] raids and an end to the militarization of our communities at the border”; and “an immediate stop to … unfair deportations.”
Steeped in an identity-politics mindset emphasizing the connection between “culture [and] power,” MIV encouraged new immigrants to eschew assimilation and to define their “aspirations” and “values” entirely through the lenses of their native cultures. This, said MIV, would help immigrants cultivate “the power to challenge and shift the dominant anti-immigrant culture” of the United States through the promotion of “enduring, just policy change.” In particular, MIV sought to transform existing “electoral processes and social policies” that were “dominated by voices that do not represent the needs and values of our [immigrant] communities.” Also in need of change was what MIV described as immigrants’ “unequal access” to “quality public services and programs,” and to “fair and equal wages.”
MIV was a member of the We Are America Alliance, a powerful pro-amnesty coalition that carried out voter-registration and get-out-the-vote drives on behalf of Barack Obama and congressional Democrats in the 2008 elections.
MIV’s five core partner organizations were the California Partnership; the Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco; the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles; the Korean Resource Center; and the Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network.
MIV also worked on a variety of immigration-related campaigns with such groups as the ACLU, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (a former chapter of ACORN), the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Californians for Justice, the Central American Resource Center, the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Movement Strategy Center, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and Youth United for Community Action.
Though MIV claimed to be a “nonpartisan” 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, its voter-registration efforts were geared explicitly toward achieving long-term progressive goals such as blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, socialized medicine, a living wage, and a “green economy.” Notably, most of the alliance’s major objectives were heavily contingent upon public taxpayer funding. For example:
* On the premise that “health care is a human right,” MIV maintained that “everyone should have access … to low-cost or free health care and coverage” as part of “the social service ‘safety net’.” Moreover, the alliance favored the use of public funds to provide “low-income immigrant women and girls” with unrestricted “reproductive health” care.
* MIV demanded that all immigrants be given access to: a “quality and affordable education” that included a “culturally relevant curriculum” and bilingual instruction; higher levels of financial aid to cover tuition costs; and “affordable child care and after-school programs.”
* Reasoning that “all communities, regardless of immigration status, deserve to live in housing that is safe, affordable for low-income families, and close to where they work,” MIV called for “increase[d] government funding to preserve, maintain, and build affordable and safe housing” that offered easy access to public transportation facilities.
* MIV asserted that because “immigrants and people of color are disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards and pollution,” the “production and dumping” of toxins and pollutants should be restricted or banned in areas with large concentrations of immigrant residents.
* With regard to employment-related matters, MIV supported the proliferation of “day labor centers”; the creation of “jobs and training programs for immigrants and people of color”; the provision of “ESL classes that help immigrants prepare for the workforce”; and the implementation of “affirmative action policies [that] provide opportunities to marginalized communities.”
Among MIV’s leading funders were the Akonadi Foundation, the California Endowment, the Tides Center’s Color of Democracy Project, the Educational Foundation of America, the Four Freedoms Fund, the Fund for Nonviolence, the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the San Francisco Foundation, the Solidago Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.
Not long after the 2010 midterm elections, MIV became inactive.