By Cris Batista | Jul 8, 2021

Building Latinx Power and What’s Next Under the Biden Administration

On June 24, 2021, Mijente gathered with donors and supporters to share the roots of Mijente and our latest strategies and tactics to build justice on the local and federal level in today’s new political climate. 

We spoke with Mijente’s Co-Founder and Director Marisa Franco, Senior Campaign Organizer Jacinta González, and Lane Santa Cruz, Council Member, Ward 1, City of Tucson, Arizona.

Mijente’s Roots: Contesting Power on All Fronts

Mijente’s Director Marisa opened up the event sharing that Latinx communities are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. And any incredible demographic and social change in American history has been met with swift violence — “it’s as American as apple pie”. 

This means that Latinx people have a target on our backs. While our numbers might be growing, we still have unequal power as we continue to be criminalized more than ever before. 

Mijente was born to counteract this and build a grassroots organizing structure for Latinx people to come together, using multiple strategies and tactics, and contest power on all fronts. 

This means developing the people’s power to target corporations and governments, mobilize voters and impact elections, and develop community-led, autonomous efforts that give our people the resources we need for freedom. 

Contesting power on all fronts became especially important with the continued rise of the right and with Trump bombarding our communities through cruel policies. To fight this, working in electoral politics became one of Mijente’s newest strategies in 2020. 

Our goal was simple: make Trump a one-term president. 

To do this, Marisa spoke of needing to build an unprecedented movement to deliver the wins we need. Mijente mobilized our members, staff, and volunteers to canvass over 1 million people in the presidential election; reached 2-5 million people through social media, knocked on every single Latino door in the Georgia Senate run-off; and won key sheriff races in counties with long anti-immigrant histories. 

Listen to what Marisa has to share on the direction of Mijente: here

Mijente’s Next Priorities: Balancing Rapid Response and Long Term Strategy

Marisa further explained that today’s reshuffled political deck is as equally urgent as before. On one hand, we see the threat of the right’s powerful organizing. On the other, a fractious alliance with drastically different ideas about how to move forward.

And after such an exhausting year of loss and uncertainty, our communities deserve more. 

Which is why, moving forward, we are taking the time to invest in: 

  • Developing our first ever strategic blueprint to remain an adaptable and nimble rapid response organization but also develop long term plans for the sustainability of our organization. 
  • Strengthening our organizing muscles by developing new organizing and educational programming to bring more people into our movements. 
  • Expanding our work further in the Southeast and Southwest over the next several election cycles; our work has shown that we can win red states.

Most Impacted Communities Will Speak with DHS Secretary Mayorkas 

Mijente’s Senior Campaign Organizer Jacinta then spoke to our work under the new Biden administration. 

She said, “Biden ran on a platform of ‘I’m not Trump’ and we knew that wasn’t enough for our community to actually have safety and dignity. It’s not enough to not be Trump. You have to go farther to dismantle this infrastructure that’s created so much harm in our communities.”

Mijente responded to the Biden win by following up on long outstanding demands. Within Biden’s first 100 days, we organized a sprint of “Eyes on ICE: Truth and Accountability Forums”, 30 events across the country where 150 people testified about the horrors of the U.S. immigration system and the policy solutions we need. This has resulted in Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accepting our invitation to meet with our most impacted community members to hear our stories and put forth our demands. We are in the process of scheduling this meeting as soon as possible. 

Listen to Jacinta’s perspective on our immigration work: here

Influencing ICE’s Enforcement Guidelines to Be Tools for Organizers 

Another opportunity Mijente has assessed as a key place to fight is ICE’s enforcement guidelines. DHS is developing these enforcement guidelines, which are essentially rules for how ICE agents act in the field, who they can arrest, and how long they can detain people, etc.

We, along with partner immigrant rights organizations, are working to be part of developing and influencing these guidelines to provide organizers, advocates, and lawyers a tool to empty our detention centers and close them down. 

People and Elected Officials Leading Together

Council Member Lane Santa Cruz of Ward 1 in Tucson, Arizona then spoke to us about how she decided to run for office and the role local politics can play in base building and organizing. 

Born and raised in Tucson, Lane recalls being very disconnected and not understanding local politics before running for office. It wasn’t until she experienced her own family shaken from the devastating loss of her older brother to a fentanyl overdose that she saw the structural ways we fail our communities. 

Lane decided then that she wanted to put her granito de arena to change her community. 

As a city council member, Lane works with Mijente to involve more community members in local politics through an experiment of co-governance. Co-governance is when elected officials listen to their constituents, rather than corporate lobbyists, and, together, they push forward policies that benefit the community. Mijente and Lane are using multiple strategies, such as canvassing 10,000 doors by the end of summer to find out people’s biggest priorities and inviting community members to join or start new neighborhood associations. 

Listen to more of Lane’s work and analysis: here

Through national and local organizing, from taking on ICE to building power in our communities, we are looking ahead to a year of solidifying our structure and being prepared to take our shot when the time comes.

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