Formed in the immediate aftermath of the large-scale immigrant-rights demonstrations that took place in more than 120 U.S. cities during the spring of 2006, the We Are America Alliance (WAAA) is a coalition that seeks to “advance immigration policy that respects the rights and fundamental dignity of all who call America home.” Its immediate goal is to help legal immigrants “build political power” through “increased civic participation” in the American political process. In a related effort, the Alliance aims also to secure expanded rights and privileges—including amnesty and citizenship—for illegal aliens residing in the United States.
During the 2008 election season, WAAA’s member groups strove to register at least 500,000 new “Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters” in 13 key states, including California and Texas. Moreover, they enacted a comprehensive get-out-the-vote campaign that included phone calls and door-to-door visits designed to persuade those voters—the vast majority of whom could be relied upon to vote Democratic— to go to the polls on Election Day.
After Barack Obama‘s presidential victory that November—which was coupled with the considerable success of congressional Democrats nationwide—WAAA executive director Holli Holliday, who had formerly worked for Progressive Majority and Project Vote, wrote: “The We Are America Alliance and its partners are proud to announce that our efforts to get out the Asian, Latino, and immigrant vote were tremendously successful. This is a huge victory for the Alliance and our partners!”
In 2010, WAAA again used a variety of voter-registration, voter-contact, and get-out-the-vote strategies to ensure that “immigrant, Latino, and Asian-American populations” in 19 pivotal states would “turn out in significant numbers” to elect representatives who favored “comprehensive immigration reform.” Those states were Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
Also in 2010, WAAA tried to “raise awareness” about the importance of that year’s national Census, given its implications “for the distribution of government resources at the local and federal level, and redistricting for the next decade.” And in collaboration with the Spanish-language media campaign “Ya es hora Ciudadania,” the Alliance worked to help “eligible residents get into the citizenship pipeline.”
In its early years, WAAA consisted of the following 13 organizations: ACORN, the Center for Community Change, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Democracia USA, the Gamaliel Foundation, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, the NALEO Education Fund, the National Capital Immigration Coalition, the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, and the New York Immigration Coalition.
Over time, the Alliance’s membership rolls contracted substantially. As of August 2015, it had just 4 member organizations, known as its National Partners: the Center for Community Change, the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, the NALEO Education Fund, and the National Council of La Raza.
WAAA is a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund and has received significant financial support from the Tides Foundation. Additional backers include the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Institute.