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A Letter from America’s Voice New Executive Director

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Dear Friends,

Before we close out the year I wanted to send a note to wish you a wonderful holiday and introduce myself as America’s Voice new Executive Director. Stepping in to lead after Frank Sharry’s departure is a humbling task, yet for me is also one filled with opportunities and possibilities. I welcome the challenge.

As you all know, progress on our issue is always hard. However, alongside deep frustrations, it is important to take some time to reflect on the advancements we made as a movement. For me, one worth noting is that despite the GOP’s relentless nativism and efforts to use immigration as a wedge issue during the 2022 midterms, their approach failed outside the MAGA base. The American people rejected GOP extremism. In fact, not only did we see candidates with strong records on immigration reform – including Sen. Cortez Masto, Sen. Kelly and Senator-elect Fetterman – win by respectable margins (including 60%+ of the Latino vote); we also saw the failure of candidates embracing extreme immigration rhetoric up and down the ballot. 

Arizona in particular is worth noting as ground zero of the immigration issue. The Grand Canyon state saw two of the most virulent anti-immigrant candidates – Kari Lake for governor and Blake Masters for Senate – lose their races, while voters passed Proposition 308, a ballot measure initiated by immigration activists that will help young undocumented people access in-state tuition. 

There were other notable wins: the Massachusetts victory of a ballot initiative to preserve driver’s licenses to all residents of the commonwealth regardless of immigration status; the long awaited redesignation of TPS for Haitians; the closing of detention centers, and continuing strong support in poll after poll for welcoming, pro-immigration policies, despite relentless attacks on immigrants and immigration from political leaders and in the conservative media. 

Of course this is in the context of what we are still fighting for: the effort to end Title 42 which is still playing out even as I write this letter; and most notably the failure of Congress to extend permanent protections to our Dreamers and farm workers, let alone broader needed immigration reforms. Republicans’ misguided endeavor on tanking any meaningful reforms shows that in spite of their relentless focus on our broken border and immigration system, most in the GOP are not interested in solutions or solving problems, but instead want to keep the status quo in place to castigate Democrats, agitate their base and maintain a level of chaos and emergency they think helps them politically.

In 2023, with a Congress divided, we unfortunately will see more of the same: a singular focus on amplifying a narrative of chaos around our immigration system and deterrence- and deportation-only policy proposals, capped by the GOP’s desire to impeach DHS’ Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

For its part, the Biden Administration is not meeting the moment when it comes to this issue. It is struggling to respond, remaining mostly silent and/or sadly defaulting to policies that President Biden once condemned when running for office. 

Without a doubt this is another sobering moment for our movement. One that brings into question our collective power and influence. Yet, giving up or failing are not options for our movement or for the millions of immigrants already here or for those coming seeking refugee. We must recommit to winning reform for the sake of preserving what is great about America, while bringing to the fight the same indomitable spirit that immigrants bring in their quest to achieve the American Dream. 

I, for one, remain undaunted. While progress is slow, let’s remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” 

During this holiday season, it is my hope that you rest, recommit, and come back renewed for our joint struggle in the New Year. 

Juntos en la lucha,