Alliance for Citizenship is nonprofit coalition based in Washington, D.C. working to build support for comprehensive immigration reform and legislation. They seek to create a path of citizenship for undocumented people in the United States who have been here for many years as productive members of our society, but due to political reasons, have been unable to gain citizenship. The 2012 election year pushed immigration reform to the forefront of national legislature, and a historic rise of the Latino voting demographic led to an increased focus on the Latino vote. Realizing this shift, eight organizations came together to form the Alliance for Citizenship, and have been consistently working on immigration reform ever since. They are composed of both activist and labor groups including the Center for American Progress, National Immigration Law Center, Center for Community Change, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, SACU, Mi Familia Vota, Americans Voice, ASLTIU, and the National Immigration Forum. This coalition varies in perspective, from policy shops, to networking movements and worker unions.
In the early stages of Alliance for Citizenship, the emerging organization found gaps in their campaign strategy. They sought to strengthen their power to influence elections, organize in a strategic way, get ahold of the messaging and control it, and handle the digital part of the campaign. In June of 2013, they were successful in passing the first comprehensive immigration reform bill through the Senate at a vote of 68 – 32, but was unable to secure support in the House.
Through these bumps in the road, they found an ally in The Advocacy Fund (TAF) at Tides. First, the ability to partner fiscally and create a neutral, central space where grants could be made, was unique to TAF.
Executive Director Lupe Lopez explained, “In other campaigns that we had before, we had a problem that most of the funds had to be given to one other partner in the campaign. That created a power dynamic where the organization that had more of the money, made more of the decision. The structure of the Advocacy Fund and Tides allowed us to have a neutral, central space for the funds to go to.”
TAF also allowed for strategic allocation of funds from organizations that tended to do larger grants, such as the Ford Foundation, or the JPB Foundation. In addition, TAF handles all of the operations, such as back office administration, legal compliance, payroll, and grants, so that Alliance for Citizenship can spend their time focused on their messaging. TAF contributes to the coalition’s policy collateral through their Political Adviser, Ben Malley. One of the advantages of TAF is that they cover a range of issues, and through Amanda Keton, Kathryn Snyder, and Ben Malley’s advice, Alliance for Citizenship can work through their organizational challenges, and work in coalition to increase their power. TAF has also featured A4C in their newsletter and website to gain more name recognition and credibility. TAF’s Senior Adviser Kathryn Snyder has been helpful in fundraising for their operations, calculating strategy, and connecting A4C to similar organizations.
The Alliance for Citizenship hosted their first ever “Immigration Power 2016” conference this past weekend in Las Vegas, NV, bringing together local, state, and national voices to focus their work and define the immigration issue in the 2016 election. They seek to unify the movement by connecting leaders, organizers, communicators, and policy staff, and collectively develop a strategy to reach and turn out record numbers of Latino, Asian American, and immigrant voters in the upcoming election cycle. Lopez described the future of the campaign as resilient: “The more they attack us, the more we will fight back. We will win – we are the future.”
To learn more about the Alliance for Citizenship, visit their site at http://www.allianceforcitizenship.org.