Since my last entry about activism on immigration reform I let myself be dragged to even another disappointment by a Hispanic leader who, at first, I believed he, like me, could see that the terrible results of the traditional Hispanic leadership on immigration had been the result not of an evil ancient curse but of its own mediocrity. When the time came though to side with a promising course of action with which he had already agreed, he lacked the courage to do the right thing. What moves me to write this last entry on the subject is the naive hope that maybe somebody somewhere with the right team could read it and use it. Maybe this plan has better luck in other hands.
A) Some comments before the draft
1) The donkey and the carrot
Already in December 2007, in my entry Lessons from 1924 our pro-immigrant leaders did not learn, in the last paragraph, I ventured to say that the xenophobic right would make its anti-immigrant activism mostly local, expecting the traditional Hispanic leadership to waste its energies following them from one state to the next, like a donkey follows a carrot, until it would be too late to try immigration reform in the foreseeable future where it really matters: at the federal level. Actually, the infamous Arizona and Alabama laws (to mention just two states) and other manifestations of anti-immigrant activism in other states as well as the inane answer from the traditional Hispanic leadership (Consider how the sympathies originated nationwide by the Arizona law were wasted in a vulgar display of power defeating Russell Pearce) have so far confirmed that fear. Especially if Romney is elected president, they will find that their time has come to push their sadistic enforcement by attrition doctrine at the federal level even harder under the Arizona and Alabama models. While Jeb Bush or Karl Rove may sincerely worry about the future of a Republican Party alienating Hispanics, such scenario will not be of particular concern for Mitt Romney who, as a Hedge Fund manager, will be much more interested in the short term (8 years) gains of aligning himself with the xenophobic groups of his base than with the Hispanic voter.
When their time is going to be? It is going to be when their net of support, whose anxieties are stimulated by the demographic trends of the Hispanic population, gets big enough to push Congress and the Executive in the direction of 1924. We know that a moment like that does not require most of the population aligning with them. We are talking here about their base of power inside the Republican Party, not about public opinion. We are talking here about primaries. If public opinion counted for the xenophobic groups inside the Tea Party, in 2007 the Kennedy-Kyl bill (despite all its defects, unnoticed by most voters), which at some point got 72% of public support, would have been accepted by them as the will of the American public instead of being successfully sabotaged by NumbersUSA. The success of the Tea Party (inside which the Minute Men and other xenophobic groups like Resistance Tea Party and 1776 Tea Party have made its living quarters) is not based on its numbers or its appealing arguments but in its ability to affect political results. Ask Senators Bennett and Hagel if you have a doubt.
Actually this path is nothing but mirrored by the extreme right. For those who follow the periodic report written by the Southern Poverty Law Center this should not be a surprise. The demographic trends of the Hispanic population creates anxieties in the xenophobic right and its minions at the left (who prefer to dishonestly and easily scapegoat the immigrant instead of addressing the challenges on competitiveness and social mobility affecting mostly the poor), who think the invading Hispanics are going to impose Communism in America (That is, they are going to believe, against Godâs law, that they are not a natural race of servants) and force their daughters into interracial marriages. Then these groups use these anxieties to reach the mainstream and portray themselves as defenders of the American culture, the Homeland security, the American Worker, the American Family, the American Religion, and even of the environment and the poor. To do that they use friendly media and pseudo think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies to create credible stories with which to seduce the mainstream. These stories are then transmitted through that friendly media and their grassroots (from Resistance Tea Party and 1776 Tea Party to local grassroots like Help Save Maryland) to a mainstream that otherwise would not buy their xenophobic arguments. Touched marginally by the anxieties of the economic crisis, their declining standards of living and the structural changes in the labor market, this seduction of the mainstream has a good chance to find a fertile ground. Want just a few examples of how this strategy has worked in the past? Just think of how the structural changes that moved America from an agrarian to an industrial nation in the late XIX Century helped the nativist organize and push for several pieces of xenophobic legislation, from the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to the 1924 National Origins Act, selling the message that unlimited opportunities in America were closing (Cf. Not Like Us by Roger Daniels) and that the new immigrants (openly called then inassimilable races) were going to put the American culture at risk. Just think of how the Great Depression led to the demonization of immigrants (and even the Great Recession if you consider one of Greece recent elections or 20% of Marine LePen in France last elections). Just think of the way the Real ID Act was sold to us using the tragedy of 9/11. In this context the traditional Hispanic leadership has chosen to follow the carrot while dancing with Mexican flags.
At this point, I just would like to make a digression and to highlight a short term goal I proposed in the draft: If the trends are what they are, putting the Dream Act at the front of this 5 year plan would be a mistake because beyond that term the chances of getting immigration reform diminish dramatically and the young constituency behind the Dream Act are the most presentable card immigration reform has in a debate plagued my misinformation. If you were successful getting the Dream Act at the beginning of a second Obama administration, our adversaries would claim that they have already conceded too much and that, now that immigration reform has been made, there is not room for further excuses to not engage in an enforcement-only approach. By that moment any attempt to explain that the Dream Act is nothing but part of comprehensive immigration reform, mostly when by that time we would have already used our most presentable card, would be futile. On the other hand, beyond that period I doubt we could get either the Dream Act or immigration reform in the foreseeable future so what I proposed this leader was to fight for immigration reform but if, by the end of that period, we could see we do not have a realistic chance of getting it, to settle for the Dream Act.
2) If you make concessions in advance and get nothing for the second time you are officially an idiot
Another example of the mediocrity of the traditional Hispanic leadership on this issue is how the stupid strategy of giving concessions in advance to the xenophobic right repeated the same mistake of 2007 with the same results after just 4 years. The same way Bush escalated enforcement at the border and at workplaces, sent temporarily the National Guard to the border and tried to criminalize employers who ignored the letters of the Social Security Administration to show that he was tough on immigration enforcement and so that it was time to give immigration reform a chance, Obama deported in three years more immigrants than Bush in his two terms, also temporarily sent the National Guard to the border, forced states and cities into the Secure Communities program and implemented e-verify, one of the most precious elements of the âenforcement by attritionâ strategy. Again, all this had the declared goal of showing that he was tough on immigration enforcement and so that it was time to give immigration reform a chance. Again Hispanic representatives tried to negotiate behind closed doors while the xenophobic right unleashed all kinds of pressures and misrepresentations. In neither case immigration reform had a chance. If you are not convinced that this is the most stupid way to negotiate immigration reform, you just have to hear it from Mark Krikorian, member of the Center for Immigration Studies and father of the âenforcement by attritionâ strategy, who on May 7, discussing the reversion of the inflow of Mexican immigrants, declared that such result was basically the result of increased enforcement during the Bush administration, that what we had to do is to just fully implement the âenforcement by attritionâ strategy so illegal immigrants, in their desperation, would self-deport and then, when they had self-deport, What would you need amnesty for then? [For those who honestly might still have a doubt about whether solving the immigration issue by enforcement is feasible, please check Douglas S. Massey 2005 work for the Cato Institute on the ineffectiveness of an enforcement-only approach on immigration Backfire at the Border].
3) My disappointing experience with IALAP
By mid February I was contacted by the employment agency of this Hispanic leader for what could have been a job interview. Tired of choreographies I decided to attend and speak freely about my points of view though supporting them with as much evidence as possible. To my surprise, this leader agreed with me and we decided to work together on a political project on immigration oriented to the Hispanic community. When in that interview this leader told me that among his plans was to launch sometime in the future a PAC I naively thought that finally I was in front a leader that saw Hispanic activism as something different from dancing with flags and sending love letters to Piolinâs radio show; in short, somebody who could be the next Hector Perez Garcia. As I saw the project moving too slowly for the time parameters that could give us some hope of success, I called this leader back and offered myself to work as a volunteer to launch the project. Thus, I offered a legislative proposal based on the Kennedy-McCain and delivered it in the time promised on the premise that you could not have a serious political marketing without a product, that the generic notion of âimmigration reformâ could not be considered a product. We agreed. Then, though not without some struggle to get the information that could help me write a draft of strategic plan and not merely the customary poem or motivational speech, I finished most of it in the time promised (though not the cash flow because I could never get him to seat with me to develop that part). We agreed again. The next step had to be to begin implementing it, right? Wrong. It had to be approved by the Board of IALAP, whose by-laws had not been yet finished and even after they finished they had to be modified to fit with the requirements of the IRS form 1023. So far the only incident happened when a member of the Board said instead of going with a new brand of immigration reform we should engage in generalities to avoid being attacked on those definitions and to not put at risk the 501(c)(3) tax regime. I replied that the best strategy was going with definitions, though polished and bullet-proof definitions, and that that would be even an advantage because, if attacked, it would bring the debate where we wanted it to be. I even showed that member of the Board the Web page of the Heritage Foundation, the pseudo think tank which was behind welfare reform in the times of the Clinton administration and behind the health reform plan implemented by Mitt Romney himself when he was Governor of Massachusetts. That was not enough and she insisted in her initiative of unilateral disarmament and self mutilation. Even ALEC is under the 501(c)(3)! Could any one be surprised why the xenophobic right has consistently won every single time? Anyway, this leader showed me that I still had its support and that the tactics which could make people uncomfortable if channeled through IALAP, the 501(c)(3), would be channeled through his company or any other channel; that what was important was preserving the goal, not the tool.
We had agreed that he would be the leader, the salesman of the project who would open the doors for me to implement the tactics lines at the staffer level. That never happened. I honestly hoped, wanted to believe, that I had found the next Hector Perez Garcia and that is why, though frustrated by the slow progress I did not quit. When he told me that I would present the plan to the Board and be part of a task force to implement it, I trusted that no surprises should come out of that meeting. Nevertheless, I was wrong. On May 24 the meeting took place. The beginning of the presentation did not look good. A member of the Board, as soon as I spoke about the necessity of understanding and using the political tools of the American system as Hector Perez Garcia did in the past and our adversaries do in the present, a member of the Board, based on just that, accused me of being a Communist, made allegories to Fidel Castro and the Shining Path, and for some minutes she stopped me from continuing with the presentation. Nevertheless, beyond that bizarre incident, the worst was still to come. The Board was completely hostile to the idea of participating in politics (because politics âis dirty and bring problemsâ) and decided to postpone any action until after the elections, that is, until after everybody had stopped paying attention to political issues. For a non-profit lacking the resources available to its rivals at the right, trying to present a different kind of activism on immigration after the elections was nothing but a joke, a sad one. As surreal as a weird dream, that Board reminded me of Latin Americans NGO where well-born people of lineage thought they could make up for their brutal ignorance of an issue with the common sense and good taste that only being born in a well-off family of good caste can give. These people surrender themselves with followers who applaud them and even put them in the Board knowing that they will wag their tails to whatever they say. On the other hand, these followers have an undisputed talent to know with whom it is for them more convenient to side in order to secure their little pay checks and other spoils. At the end, the Board just wanted to be a small Casa de Maryland but with some intellectual charm and thought that getting into the market after the elections was negligible because the nation would always be eagerly waiting for their words of wisdom whenever they decided to send their memorable message.
Despite all this, I sent this leader another two e-mails suggesting ways of saving the project through other channels before it was too late to launch the voter registration program. Beyond the voter registration program, making the formal presentation of the project as a wide platform in which the Kennedy-McCain and my proposal were the first two while inviting serious organization to present their own comments and proposals while people would still be paying attention was of the upmost importance. My e-mails never got an answer and Dr. Francisco Acosta, that leader who never was, never even called me back to explain his change of heart.
If this tragedy unfolds as all the evidence shows me it will, many honest leaders will bitterly wish that somebody had warned them and shown them a more reasonable plan instead of the stupid and ineffective choreographies of the traditional Hispanic leadership. Dr. Francisco Acosta, you will not be one of them because you agreed with me about these facts and the urgent need to try to avoid this upcoming tragedy but at the end you knowingly preferred what was easy instead of what was right. It has not been until I have convinced myself that I would not be able to save this plan that I have decided to write these lines. I just hope it has better luck in other hands.
4) Adjustments I would make to my own legislative proposal
For those who read my legislative proposal in the entry Obama vs. FIRM, the most stupid fight of our times, (http://www.dailykos.com/...) I have thought some corrections might be necessary. At first I thought that some provisions about domestic violence could be necessary but then I saw that the Kennedy-McCain was good enough on this point and that I had nothing good to add, either under a conservative or a liberal perspective.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of points I would like to discuss on my own proposal:
i) My proposal points to get rid of the quota system that has helped turn our immigration system into a regime of castes. In this effort somebody made me notice that there were international treaties which might collide with a proposal like mine as they establish speedy processing for applicants from certain countries. If the treaties only award speedy processing, there is no conflict with my proposal because it does not focus on the speed of the processing but in how you award a visa. If a treaty awarded preferential treatment to the national of a country over the national of another over the awarding of a visa itself, then it would be grounds for some conflict that I would accept but that would be a fight worth having as it would lead to get rid of the quota system, an un-American system of castes unacceptable in a country based on the concept of the prevalence of character over caste.
ii) I thought the avenues for skilled labor temporary and permanent residents as a way of conciliating the private (its need for skilled workers) and public (its interest for a potential citizen who should have a minimum degree of commitment with the country) interests enhancing the already existing channel for visas H1B. Actually I had learned of many abuses at the H1B visa level where some people could use the system to favor his buddies or certain businesses its clients and I tried to help make that system more transparent. Nevertheless, checking again on my own proposal I realized that it could have been legitimately misunderstood as a system where the government could have imposed a worker to a company just because that worker, as an applicant, was ahead in the ranking, not to mention the pandemonium resulting of the many career specialties competing for those visas. Thus I have decided to make a couple of adjustments.
First, from the projections of skilled labor needs made by the Department of Labor multiplied by a factor, the ranking I propose would lead to a pool from which the employers would hire the skilled employers of their wish without that changing the final number of visas. So, letâs say the projection made by the Department of Labor is of 100 skilled labor visas and the factor is 3, that would led to a pool for that year of 300 but only 100 visas would be awarded. In other words, the conditions and requisites I mention in my proposal would work just as a precondition for the applicantâs hiring by a local organization; not as a system to allocate employees to employers.
Second, what happens if an outstanding applicant is brilliant in its own field but canât pass the English test? Based on its achievements or potential for achievements, the organization should be able to apply for a waiver before the Task Force. If an applicant canât speak English but he can make outstanding contributions that help keep America at the edge of technological innovation, I really donât care if he has to speak though an interpreter for the rest of his life.
5) The draft of strategic plan, if something is interested
The following is nothing but a draft of the strategic plan I discussed with IALAP, which itself is based on the plan I offered in my entry Betraying Hector Perez Garcia of the FIRMâs extraordinary service to the xenophobic right (http://www.dailykos.com/...). The operative cash flow is not there because despite my continuous insistence, I never had a chance to crunch those numbers with its leader. The draft basically shows the non-monetary assets (the contacts its leader had that could help an underfunded new non-profit like IALAP present its brand of immigration reform before the upcoming elections while it could appeal to potential donors and be in conditions to have an important presence in the 2016 elections inside the parameters of its legal condition as a 501(c)(3)). As you can see, most of the tactics, if those contacts were proven reliable, were high effective-low budget. Anyway, I could advance in their budgeting as far as the collaboration of that leader let me. One of the few things I could not make explicit in the draft due to the hurry with which I worked to show this leader that I was 100% serious about this issue was the vigil and message about the Good Samaritan by religious leaders. I remember mentioning him the great communications effort made by organizations like Courage and how that helped change perceptions about homosexuality in a relatively short term. Just remember that in 2004 George Bush ran on a platform one of whose main points was a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and Dont Ask Dont Tell was considered unmovable. On the other hand, the traditional Hispanic leadership, bringing most of his messaging in Spanish while political results are defined in English, not surprisingly has gotten the exact opposite results. That vigilâs main goal would bring a pro-immigrant message in English to a Christian audience just by telling the truth: If you are a Christian, the Main Commandment tells you to love your neighbor and the parable of the Good Samaritan explains you who your neighbor is. Despite the dislike between Jews and Samaritans, the Good Samaritan helps this Jew, who was a foreigner to him, and he is set as the standard of a Christian who loves his neighbor, the Main Commandment introduced by nothing less than Jesus Christ. In other words, you cannot hate the immigrant or surrender him to the sadistic enforcement by attrition strategy and call yourself a Christian at the same time.
With respect to the Voter Registration program, it was not the most important part of the plan at this point due to the lower Hispanic registration and turnout (not to mention how late we were trying to implement the program) but I supported its necessity before the elections for the following reasons:
i) It helped give credibility to an organization with little funding and name recognition but which then would be giving evidence that it was willing to provide on its words and not waste the short span it had to introduce itself making boring memorable speeches or dancing idiotically on the streets. When that symbolic action would be accompanied by a serious 5-year plan, then that organization could have a chance.
ii) Going to District 11 in Virginia sent a signal: We are not stupid, we are not going to waste resources in Maryland trying to win districts that would have been won anyway with or without us, and we are going to show that we know where to put our resources efficiently. Nobody takes seriously a stupid in politics. You cannot achieve results in politics is you are not taken seriously.
iii) As a result of the dislocation of many voters as a result of the mortgage meltdown (noted by Acosta himself), many voters would require to be registered again and so would not be easy to find. This required media support to reconnect with them. This fact though also gave us an opportunity to address an issue made evident by the Pew Hispanic Center report The Latino Electorate in 2010: More Voters, More Non-Voters of April 2011, in whose page 10 it shows the main two reasons given by Hispanics for not voting: Too busy, conflicting work or school schedule and Forgot to vote. To say it bluntly, none of the other groups (White, Black, and Asian) made so lame excuses in such a magnitude. When you have to face such diagnosis, your marketing has to have an important emotional component: You have to make the person who makes such lame excuses to feel guilty for his omission. That is why media support for what I called the tactic Little Girl was so important in the context of the draft and reinforced dramatically the main short-term goal.
Anyway, if somehow I could be of help to any person interested in the following document or if somebody is interested in the legislative proposal I prepared as a compatible alternative to the Kennedy-McCain bill, with which it could have perfectly reached a compromise in Conference, just contact me. Use the e-mail address I have posted at my main page at Daily Kos.
B) The draft on which Acosta and I agreed
0. Introduction - Reasons for foundation
Hispanics will be facing dramatic challenges in the coming years. For instance, demographic and economic trends might make immigration reform extremely difficult; Hispanics were not only the group most affected by the Great Recession in terms of wealth (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...); the traditional funding of public schools to which Hispanic children is going to pose a severe limitation to their possibilities of not only social mobility but also of the most basic competitiveness. Nevertheless, despite the dramatic proportions of these challenges, we find that there is a niche available for a different kind of Hispanic activism in order to address those challenges and that is precisely the niche we will try to fill. On the other hand, demographic and economic trends make imperative to take action now in order to avoid fruitless lamentations later. And that is why this different brand of Hispanic activism must be launched no later than now.
The limitations of our size at the start-up moment will require that, as far it does not denaturalize our goals, we work in alliances with other organizations. Due to the big egos that may be dominant in those organization, it would be advisable not to invite them to join us but to invite them to forge temporary alliances around specific issues, so avoiding domestic battles about who joins who or about who is the leader of the whole group. Because the time we have to produce effective activism is so short, we must consider these alliances desirable but as far as it does not denaturalize our goals.
Even though launching a different brand means differentiation, we must try not to be confrontational, in order to not waste resources, but collaborative as far as it does not denaturalize our goals because the timing of this project is critical: There will not be time for second tries.
Having posed the problem this way, we should have a benchmark of the kind of activism we want to launch. Fortunately, history gives us one: Dr. Hector Perez Garcia. One of the greatest Hispanic leaders, Dr. Perez Garcia founded the GI Forum in 1948 to advocate for Mexican American veterans. In 1949 he defended the widow of a Mexican American soldier, Private Felix Longoria. She had been denied the right to bury her husband in a local Texan cemetery due to the racial origin of Private Longoria. With the help of Lyndon Johnson, Perez Garcia got to bury Longoria in the Arlington National Cemetery with military honors. Perez Garcia learned how the American system works and what the main needs of the Hispanic community were. Thus he founded new GI Forums across the country and engaged in his next fight, before the Courts, to fight segregation and to repeal the special needs requirement of Texan schools, which put Mexican American children in special needs classes on language pretenses, whether those children needed them or not. After three years, he got this goal. To succeed it was not enough to count with the legal advise of LULAC so he organized the Mexican American community to support JFK with the âViva Kennedyâ clubs and, even though he did not get the expected results from JFK, to support Johnson. From Johnson he got the support to appoint Vicente Ximenes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in order to deal with his second goal: quality jobs for the Mexican American community. Other fights he got involved with were the poll tax, jury duty and the Bracero Program. Thus, we have to reedit Hector Perez Garcia with tactics more appropriate to our juncture.
If the goal is to create positive change on challenges like those mentioned above, we need to get legislation passed and support its implementation. Passing legislation requires political action and effective political action requires, as previous experiences have demonstrated, to have a product to offer (legislative proposals) and a tripod on which our legislative proposals are going to rest. This tripod requires tactics at the levels of image and positioning, leadership (beginning with the grassroots level), and fundraising. Only an effective and coordinated tripod of this kind will help us influence politicians, especially politicians from swing districts, who are, at the end, who will vote in favor or against our proposals.
Thus, we can say that our goal is to develop proposals on issues affecting Hispanics, to develop informed leadership who can use such tripod to push the legislative proposals of our interest. Though lobbying is part of this mix up, it is only a part of it. Developing proposals, developing leadership who can push for those proposals, developing an effective marketing campaign to communicate our message are equally important. Only if we can develop these lines of action, we can expect to assemble this tripod with another organization, a PAC, which can cover the action at the level of fundraising.
Timing will require that the issue with which we will make our debut is immigration reform. If we do not develop a different, intelligent tactic to get it passed by 2017, most probably it will not be feasible in more than a decade. Thus, in the next 5 years, our goal should be to push for comprehensive immigration reform and, if we are unsuccessful by then, to settle by the Dream Act. To settle for the Dream Act prematurely in 2013 would literally kill the possibilities of immigration reform in the foreseeable future.
II. Assets Available
At the end, the feasibility of tactics will depend on the assets on which the organization can rely. We will call monetary assets all those who can be quantified monetarily, which are going to be easily identified in our projected financial statements. We will call non monetary assets all those assets that, especially at the start-up moment, will be more important: the net of contacts that will help us move forward despite scarce monetary resources, at least while our organization reaches the level of notoriety that let us rely in a regular flow of donations.
a) Monetary Assets
a 1) Expected funding first year for organization activities
a 2) Expected funding first year for PAC
b) Non monetary assets
b 1) Contacts
b 1 1) Contacts on leadership
b 1 1 a) Contacts on leadership for persuasion
We can count with at least 100 people with the appropriate profile to develop the work of persuasion and voter registration. This appropriate profile implies the person can communicate in good English and even engage in a basic debate about issues in order to motivate the voter of our interest to vote. At least one of these 100 is a leader linked to the Dream Act movement and, taking into account their frustrations with the traditional leadership, we might expect to get traction among them through these 100 people. Union members also play an important role on this front, though their most effective action should be expected among its members.
b 1 1 b) Contacts for GOTV effort
To support the persuasion effort, we can count with an important number of cab drivers to help in the GOTV effort. What is more, these cab drivers, from a local Ethiopian company and Hardwood, whose cab drivers have previous experience in helping the GOTV effort, which in the case of Hispanic voters is fundamental.
b 1 2) Contacts on image
b 1 2 a) Contacts in media
We can count with extensive support among Hispanic Media and we should try to extend this support (or, at least, coverage) to the media in English, depending of the message we need to push. Among newspapers this support is at the level of editors (like Alberto Avendano in the case of El Tiempo Latino) and owners (like the owner of The Washington Hispanic âthrough Ana Sol Gutierrez and Carmen Larsen. Among radio stations, we can count with owners like the owner of Radio America, Radio Sol (Mr. Negron). Among journalists, we can count with Andrea Acosta (El Pregonero), Lourdes Meluza (reporter for Univision), Armando Guzman (reporter for TeveAzteca), and reporters for Telemundo. We can also count with journalists like Ramon Jimenez, working for Metro Latino and we expect that our new brand of activism could attract others to give visibility to our political actions. To polish the messaging, we can count with the Alex Canasâs advertising agency.
b 1 2 b) Contacts in think tanks
To help us to develop our future think tank in the long term and to help us polish the reasons behind our proposals we can count with Jorge Peredo, researcher for the Pew Hispanic Center. No social movement has been able to achieve change without a solid theoretical framework behind them. We hope to extend this intellectual network as soon as our positioning gets more visibility. In that direction, we expect to count with the help of Jorge Osterling, professor at George Mason University.
It would be desirable to gain for our movement the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars due to their outreach outside the intellectual community with respect to this issue.
b 1 2 c) Contacts among politicians and elected representatives
To push ideas we need leaders at both the national and grassroots levels so the merits of our ideas can reach the voters and not be denaturalized by our adversaries. Among those leaders, we count, at the local level in the Washington Area, with:
Victor Ramirez, Maryland Senator for Prince George County
Ana Sol Gutierrez, Maryland Senator for Montgomery County
Joselyn Pena, Maryland Representative for Prince George County
Will Campos, Maryland Councilmember for Prince George
Nancy Navarro, Maryland Councilmember for Montgomery County (expected to be the next President for Montgomery County)
Gloria Bonilla, Advisor for Montgomery College
Jose Jovel, staffer for George Leventhal, Montgomery County Councilmember
Walter Tejada, Arlington County President
Jorge Osterling, professor at George Mason University
At the national level we can count with
Alina Cruz, staffer for Chris Van Hollen, Representative to Congress for Maryland
The chief of staff in Greenbelt for Barbara Mikulski
Juan Carlos Ruiz, former member of the Tim Kaine campaign, which is particularly important because Virginia district 11th looks very attractive to launch our debut on voter registration.
b 1 2 d) Contacts among donors of infrastructure (locale, i.e.) and organizers of events
We will need the help of organizations who can help us organize events or with facilities to develop tactics. The business leaders from which we can expect help after presenting them a sound plan are
Carmen Ortiz-Olsen, Vice President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County
Veronica Cool, Chairwoman of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Luis Gutierrez, Board member of the Baltimore, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
b 1 2 e) Contacts in political organizations
As we are a new organization, we will need as much help as possible from organizations with experience in similar tactics like training of volunteers, identification and development of leadership, basic infrastructure for voter registration, information (from poll results to electoral legal information), etc. Also, we expect to develop alliances with these organizations are ours proposals prove their soundness.
The organizations with expect to count with are
LULAC (Contact: Brent Wilkins, President)
National Council of La Raza
Casa de Maryland (Actually, our founder is a former President of Casa de Maryland)
Democratic Club of Montgomery County
Impact Silver Spring
Action Langley Park (contact: Bill Hanna)
SEIU (Contact: President)
Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters (Contacts: Larry Rubin, Thomas Blanton)
Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW)
Americaâs Vote (Coalition of 28 political organizations)
Mi Familia Vota
National Education Association
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (contact: John Glaser: Grassroots Manager for the Northeast)
Building Trade Association (Union â LUNA)
National Democratic Committee (contact: Maria Maquinistas)
Fenton Communications (contact: David Fenton, Lisa Witter) which, we expect, will help us with their experience on public relations for non-profits.
b 1 2 f) Church
Church leaders were very important for the Civil Rights Movement and could play an important role in our organization. Among religious leaders, we can count with
Phil Wheaton (Episcopalian leader)
Carlos Rey (Franciscan leader)
Joe Nangle (Secretary for the Franciscan Action Network Board of Directors)
b 1 f) Contacts among lawyers and other professionals
Lawyers and other professionals will help us polish this kind of angles of our proposals and political action
Arthur Valenzuela (immigration Lawyer)
AsociaciÃ³n de Abogados Peruanos en Washington
AsociaciÃ³n de abogados de El Salvador
b 1 3) Contacts on fundraising
Even though our organization cannot engage in fundraising for political campaigns, we will try to collaborate, inside the framework of the law, to collaborate with the fundraiser that is going to be part of our political strategy.
b 1 3 a) Contacts among donors by kind of donor
Among the donors we could introduce to our fundraiser are
US Chamber of Commerce (contact: Angela)
Home Depot Foundation
American Farmers Association (contact: Judy Arredondo)
Farm Labor Organizing Committee (contact: President Baldemar Velasquez)
Department of Labor (Gabriela Lemos, Assistant to the Labor Secretary)
b 1 3 b) Contacts among volunteers experienced in events
To assist us in organizing events we can count, besides some of the already mentioned contacts:
Doris de Paz (from the SEIU)
Isabel Acosta (former member of Hispanos Unidos de Maryland)
III. Expected structure of the organization in the first years
At the Staff level and under the Chief Executive Officer, the organization will develop the following units (which, at first, could be concentrated in an only one person):
a) Research, Marketing and Identification & Development of Leadership
a 1) Chief Researcher (Development of information for media, research and political activism, coordinates the work with other areas). The Chief Researcher is invited as advisor to the Board without vote .
a 2) Field Researcher Coordinator (Develops information on the issues to develop the first years. I.e., Immigration, Education, Small Business).
a 3) Field Activism Coordinator
Provides support to the activities directed to support leaders at both the national and grassroots levels and facilitates the coordination with the Research Units; facilitates contact at staff level with members and volunteers of the organization and with other organizations that work projects with us; also responsible for logistics at staff level.
b) Fundraising (As independent entity, PAC)
Even though working coordinately with a PAC is part of this project, help the fundraising effort of friends and allies is important as it helps the give effectiveness to the kind of political activism we want to promote.
2) Line of command
The Board and the Chief Executive Officer are at the top of the activities of the organization according to the By Laws.
The Staff (Chief Researcher and Coordinators) work in coordination with the upper levels of the line of command.
IV. Marketing strategy and positioning
Positioning is a key element in marketing. There is a niche in Hispanic Activism that has not been filled despite the poor results of many years. This represents a huge opportunity as far as we identify ourselves with this new brand of political activism that coordinates the three legs of political activism to support specific legislative proposals. The one who first identifies itself with the niche is the one who has the most advantage to position itself in that niche and once a positioning is gained, it is normally very difficult to lose. Our scarce resources require that we move very fast to fill that niche from the moment of our birth on.
A political activism that wants to achieve goals in terms of legislation much be able to affect votes, especially in swing districts. To affect votes, we need to affect the variables that bring or subtract votes in the next elections. To affect those votes, especially on an issue like immigration, we need a tripod:
Immigration Reform has been submitted to decades of disinformation by machinery that extends from think tanks like Heritage and Center for Immigration Studies to media like The Examiner to national organizations like NumbersUSA and the Tea Party to grassroots organizations like the Help Save Maryland. Ignoring this level explains why in 2008 the PAC Immigrantâs List could not place its funds where it wanted, in the swing states where politicians had voted against the Kennedy Kyl bill: Those politicians rejected its funds because the image of immigration reform was radioactive.
The image level implies a marketing mix to change perceptions about immigration and bring to the public debate ours and others academic work. Preparing leaders for debates is another example of the usefulness of this line of work. Unfortunately it has been too many times when leaders have simply ignored the work of think tanks from Cato Institute to Pew Hispanic Center to the Urban Institute and thus wasted a valuable opportunity to expose the disinformation and lies of their adversaries.
In a marketing mix the product is one of the essential elements and perhaps nothing has exposed the misery of the current leadership on this issue more than, year after year, the lack of legislative proposals, which are the products the leaders are supposed to be selling.
We need to identify and develop leadership. Leaders are like the salesmen of the ideas created by the engineers. If there is no ideas or these are weak, the leaders are ineffective because the product they sale is easy to discredit. If the ideas are good but the salesmen are ineffective, we have the status quo, where the theoretical work is good but the leaders ignore it or have turned their backs on it. To succeed we need both: good salesmen and good engineers. There has been no effective social movement without an intelligent theoretical framework backing them.
Leadership has, in itself, two levels, depending on the specific circumstances of the birth of our organization what level to support the most. The first level is the support to friendly leaders who, though not in swing districts, are willing to be our voice, to present our proposals. The second level is the support to leaders in swing states who would be willing to vote for our proposals if not to present them themselves on the floor.
This is the third leg of our tripod and, though legally it must be developed by another organization, coordination is essential to avoid the above mentioned failure by Immigrantâs List. Fundraising is a key element considered by politicians when considering to whom to hear and we cannot ignore it if we want to be heard.
Of course, our tactics should be subject to periodic reevaluation and adjustment according to the progress and reaction of the market.
Immigration is the issue with which we are going to make our debut and there are very good reasons to do that. Comprehensive immigration reform is an issue that can not only affect the social relations in a society that Hispanics are going to inherit as an important part of the population but also, even in the short term, have a heavy effect on the whole Hispanic community. On this issue timing is of the extreme importance due to demographic trends (increase in Hispanic population that increase the anxieties of the sector of the population from which the xenophobic right recruits its ranks and support) and economic trends (structural changes in the labor market exacerbated by the Great Recession that will keep unemployment high for much longer than expected) will make extremely difficult to get immigration reform after 2017 and, to be protagonists of that change, he must present our brand of immigration reform in the 2012 electoral cycle. Only if despite our best effort by 2017 immigration reform is a long shot, we should try to settle for the Dream Act. As explained before, settling prematurely for the Dream Act, precisely because of the trends mentioned here, would make comprehensive immigration reform practically impossible in possibly a couple of decades.
As an issue, immigration reform presents also an opportunity: the prestige it could bring to our organization if our strategy proves to be successful in an issue many consider unsolvable and the advantage of counting with a new approach that may result in success. Actually this strategy is nothing new but an adaptation of what has worked in other causes and that is why our expectations are far from unrealistic.
As mentioned in our introduction, there are many issues that will define the position of Hispanics in the American society as they are increasingly affected by decreasing social mobility, decreasing educative standards and a severe effect of the Great Recession on sectors where many Hispanics make their living and put their savings.
Having established immigration as the first issue, letâs address the problems of the Hispanic advocacy: In 2005 xenophobic groups described the pro-immigrant movement as an invasion of people reluctant to learn English and with no interest for integration to the rest of the United States. Involuntarily contributing to such stereotype, traditional leadership promoted marches that looked like a bizarre army of occupation taking over the streets with menacing faces, displaying foreign flags and talking in a language most Americans could not understand. To gain the vast majority of the American population for their cause and finding the stereotypes they created validated by the mistakes of this traditional leadership, those xenophobic groups engaged in an organized campaign of disinformation that let them disguise their intentions behind supposed concern for the working poor, the taxpayers, the safety of the elderly and even the environment.
The results could not have been worse. The S. 1033 of 2005, sponsored by Senators Kennedy and McCain opened the immigration debate on terms that McCain made attractive to a good number of conservatives even though did not count with an equivalent support in the House of Representatives. Nevertheless at that moment the polls showed increasing support for immigration reform among conservatives. Then, the marches and strikes finally buried this opportunity until 2006, when a very inferior bill, sponsored by Senator Specter, was passed by the Senate but it could not find a compatible bill coming from the House of Representatives, getting lost in Conference. Among the strategic failures that led to the waste of this opportunity, we can say that the pro-immigrant leadership could not develop at the House level alternative proposals of immigration reform that could be appealing to the American mainstream and compatible to the S. 1033 to make the negotiation in Conference possible. The result was a campaign of mischaracterization of the S. 1033 in which xenophobic groups even attacked the bill for not having things the bill had and the current status quo lacked.
In 2007 an even inferior bill was introduced by Senators Kennedy and Kyl. Despite the many ticking bombs of this bill, this was again labeled as amnesty by the xenophobic groups and again the so-called pro-immigrant leaders could neither defend the bill (on the hopes to amend it later) nor present alternative proposals that were acceptable for the American mainstream. Despite that and despite the fact that the public did not have a clear idea of the contents of the bill, the support for the bill reached 72%, which should have been enough to make the bill become law. Nevertheless, Congress, after a brief recess before the final vote, was subject to all kinds of threats by these xenophobic groups (using as leverage their resources on volunteers and fundraising). These groups vowed openly (not quietly, behind closed doors, as many Hispanic leaders, despite its ineffectiveness, have come to believe is the right way to negotiate) to support the challengers of any Senator or Congressman who voted in favor of what they called amnesty. As expected, most of these politicians stepped back from their commitments to President Bush in favor of the Kennedy-Kyl bill. This revolt against Bush was led by nothing less than a pseudo-think tank: NumbersUSA. This episode exposed the weakness of traditional pro-immigrant leaders and their inability to respond to xenophobic groups with their same weapons. But that was not all. Even when Congress was already under a Democratic majority, not only the Kennedy-Kyl bill fell but also the Agjobs and the Dream Act followed the same fate, the budget for immigration law enforcement at the border was increased significantly, the National Guard was sent temporarily to the Southern border and employers who ignored the letters from the Social Security Administration about invalid social security numbers of their employees would face the possibility of criminal charges (This was stopped in a Court of the Circuit). This same story would get repeated years later under the Obama administration.
While xenophobic groups directed their energy to deceive the American public, traditional pro-immigrant leaders engaged in a tactic that, at that moment, proved sterile: to promote the Hispanic vote. The problem with this strategy is that a study made by the Pew Hispanic Center showed since 2005 that where the Hispanic population and vote concentrates, Senators and Congressmen do not have particularly anti-immigrant positions, different from districts where the Hispanic population is small but has been consistently growing. While an intelligent variation would have been to direct their energy to support friendly politicians in swing states, where their support was necessary, many of these traditional pro-immigrant groups were more interested in displaying their power locally, where their power could add nothing important to the victory of friendly local politicians. With no proposal of their own to offer, they could not even use the voice of these friendly politicians to air a proposal of immigration reform. Not using their power where it could count, they could no have expectations of being taken seriously . Furthermore, they not only did not understand the tools to make things happen in Washington (while, on the contrary, Hector Perez Garcia did) but also they did not understand the motivations of their voters. A poll made by Naleo before the 2006 elections just repeated what we already know but they kept ignoring:
âThe survey found that education, the economy and jobs, and the war in Iraq continue to be the top concerns for Latinos, in that order. Yet, while only 9% ranked immigration as their top concern, a majority of Latinos (51%), including half of young voters, reported that immigration was the most important or one of the most important issues in deciding their vote.â
ââThis poll shows that attempts to use immigration as a wedge issue in this election will backfire. All of the evidence suggests that candidatesâ positions on immigration will not make a difference with the vast majority of mainstream voters (see, for example, www.immigration2006.org), but will have a profound influence on whom Latinos will vote for today,â stated Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund.â
The Hispanic vote works in a very particular way with respect to the immigration issue: A candidate with pro-immigrant positions not necessarily gains the Hispanic support but a candidate with anti-immigrant positions is usually strongly rejected by the Hispanics who vote. That year, to develop programs of volunteers and fundraising directed to swing districts would have been a much more efficient way of promoting the political Hispanic participation on immigration. This disarticulation found its most sad example in Immigrantâs Listâs, a PAC that wanted to achieve results exclusively through fundraising only to find that the swing-state politicians on whom it was more interested rejected its money. The lack of articulation between long-term strategies and short-term tactics added only misery to the already poor results.
The racial openness resulting in America from the election of Barack Obama and the structural changes made evident by the Great Recession represented additional opportunities and challenges the traditional leadership was not able to address either due to the lack of research and development of information for political decision making or to the lack of appropriate adjustment to the juncture. Not having taken care of these variables, the 2010 elections were a preventable tragedy. The now increased influence of 1776 Tea Party and Resistance Tea Party have only aggravated the already terrible status quo. Another result of this tragedy is that the parameters of the immigration debate have been set by these xenophobic groups, parameters to which the traditional leadership can hardly adjust and much less change due to their divorce from think tanks and intellectual sectors.
The lessons of the past teach us that:
1. We cannot afford the luxury of keeping betting on strategies that so far have provided nothing but failure and the window of opportunity for improvement is very small and short before demographic trends are used to imprint a xenophobic character to this decade like the nativist did in the twenties, giving birth to a very long night on this issue.
2. The approaches to the issue cannot be partial. A right tool, like fundraising, may reach very poor results if it is not properly integrated in a coherent strategy with other necessary tools of advocacy.
3. An approach seeking comprehensive reform cannot rest on an only one bill because, as the experience of these last years have shown, it shortens the spectrum to which we can appeal and hurts the possibility of negotiation in an eventual Senate-Congress Conference if compatible bills are not introduced in both chambers.
4. In 2006 Rahm Emanuel preferred supporting an anti-immigrant candidate like Shuler than sponsoring a new Hector Perez Garcia kind leader. While Perez Garcia adopted definitions and engaged in a proactive activism, the traditional leadership has avoided definitions and has adopted the unrealistic position of expecting that the main parties are going to compete for its affections with generous proposals of immigration reform, which so far has obviously not happened.
5. The lack of serious planning has led the traditional leadership to expose its weak flanks. In 2004 it not only promised 1 million votes it could not provide and announced a strike that was a colossal failure but also has recurrently wasted political capital the few times it had it. The Dream Act of Maryland is the best example of this.
6. Both the program of volunteers and the fundraising are just an application of marketing to politics and so must go hand in hand with a positioning of the product (in our case, immigration reform) that is appealing to what we have called the mainstream.
7. Visibility may compensate the initial small numbers of a movement like this, making realistic its expectations of positioning a new brand of activism despite the disadvantages it will face at the moment of its birth.
Experience shows that an efficient activism rests on the above mentioned tripod. The tactics that on this issue we can associate to that tripod are as follow:
1. Image (positioning)
a) Alexander Hamilton presenting our movement as an American movement: The movement has to identify itself with an image that precisely generates contradiction with the stereotypes xenophobic groups have been reinforcing for years. It is precisely the evidence of this contradiction what will make lose credibility to their stereotypes. One of the most common caricatures is to identify the pro-immigrant movement with the âMexicansâ to present the issue as a dilemma âthem against usâ and to even hide behind a false patriotism. Thus as Bill Richardson or Antonio Villaraigosa did not let others to define them as the âHispanic candidatesâ (and Obama did not let others to define him as the black candidate), our pro-immigrant movement should not let others to define it as a Hispanic or Mexican movement in opposition to the American mainstream. That is why our organization should identify itself, on immigration, with Alexander Hamilton, the most important immigrant of our history. This Founding Father was Washingtonâs right arm both in the battlefield and in his two administrations, as first Secretary of the Treasury designed our economic system, was one of the two main commentators of the Constitution and was a member of the first Constitutional Assembly. Nevertheless, Hamilton was born in the Caribbean, poor and out of wedlock, and came as a student in terms that, under the current law, would have made of him an illegal immigrant due to violation of the double intention clause. Identifying our movement as an American movement that happens to be Hispanic should point to counterattack the picture of pro-immigration advocacy as an alien position, opposed to the American mainstream.
Resources to be used in this tactic: This tactic is a component of other tactics and implies education of leadership for persuasion (b 1 1 a) and to introduce it as part of our presentation of other tactics before the media (b 1 2 a). If this is successful, we can make this part of our positioning attractive to political leaders (b 1 2 c).
Marginally the additional cost is zero as it has to be incorporated in other tactics): In example, presenting the image of Alexander Hamilton in the background of our presentations resulting from other tactics. Positioning our identification with Hamilton would require some introduction but it should not be that difficult: Hamilton is at the back of the $10 bill!
b) Persuasion and voting registration: A wise use of our resources is fundamental if the organization expects to be successful. In example, students advocating for the Dream Act could be important assets as volunteers supporting the persuasion and voting registration efforts, especially when directed to non Hispanic sectors. They are the living proof of the falsehood of the mischaracterization of immigrants as inassimilable illiterates. It is necessary to convoke them and show them that their goals have better possibilities of success under our plan than under the traditional activism.
Resources to be used in this tactic: Volunteers with the profile for tasks of persuasion are the ideal assets for this kind of tactic (b 1 1 a). Because of the dislocation in the housing market that has resulted in voters moving and then having to reregister, the traditional way to address persuasion and voter registration, lists based on records from previous elections, could result in limited effectiveness. Thus, we need a campaign to reach those voters we cannot reach through the lists because they have moved. To achieve this we need to use our assets in media (b 1 2 a) to invite Hispanics to register or reregister, depending on the case. As the two most important reasons given by Hispanics to excuse their low turnout (Being busy working and having forgotten to vote) are very poor, we need a campaign directed to making them feel guilty if they do not vote. In the case of graphic media we can use what here we call Project Little Girl (g) and attach at the bottom a 1-800 number to help them register or reregister, depending on the case, and inviting them to use our GOTV assets (b 1 1 b) what, in simple terms, means inviting them to give them a ride to the voting place. Coordination with the efforts of unions like SEIU (b 1 2 e) may be extremely helpful in the GOTV part of this tactic.
As contributing to the victory in Maryland adds nothing (unless we are helping politicians who expressly are willing to voice our proposals), we propose to begin with the district Virginia 11th, specifically with Fairfax County, which is going to be a contested battleground district in which a notorious anti-immigrant candidate, George Allen, is running against Tim Kaine. Juan Carlos Ruiz was close to the Tim Kaine campaign and his help could be valuable in this swing district. Contributing to a victory in VA 11th could bring on us the prestige of having helped to make a difference and gain a friend in a swing district. Extending our effort to other districts will depend on the resources we can finally tap.
The budget and resources we can appeal for this campaign are yet to be defined but our assets in contacts among political organizations (b 1 2 e) should help us engage in this tactic in a scale that we still would have to determine. So far the only one identified incremental cost would be the 1-800 line, which would turn to be negligible. Nevertheless, because this tactic may let us appeal for funds and because we need to develop expertise on the field, this has to be one of the first tactics to be launched.
c) A wise use of tactics is fundamental to enhance the tools at its disposal. For instance, even a somehow burned tactic like a march, properly retooled, may report important contributions to the organization:
i) In this hypothetic march, the communications with the public during the event is only in English, whether orally or through signs (Assets b 1 2 e and b 1 2 f) though the invitation made by the friendly media may be in Spanish (b 1 2 a). This may imply that part of the Hispanic attendants do not understand the messages; nevertheless, what everybody should understand is that what is important is not that non English speaking attendants understand the messages during the event but that Americans in contact with the event do. To achieve this, it would be desirable that we can convoke coverage by the English speaking media.
ii) Visual resources are very important to communicate the emotive message we want to communicate. As Mothers of May Plaza marched with the pictures of the people disappeared by the Argentine dictatorship, this hypothetic march would bring the pictures of outstanding students whose lives are being destroyed by the current system, of undocumented soldiers who have died in combat zone, of children left abandoned after their parents have been captured in raids and of the people who have died in the desert trying to reach the United States. The pictures of the coffins coming from Iraq made a huge difference in the attitudes of Americans with respect to the war.
iii) The final part of this hypothetic march would be a religious service for the victims of anti-immigrant legislation and even a vigil, giving the churches a space to participate more actively. Different from the Civil Rights Movement, the role of the churches have been shy on this issue to say the least. (Assets in b 1 2 f) It would be ideal to reach the American people with the parable of the Good Samaritan applied to the immigration issue.
iv) This hypothetic march would count with properly identified volunteers who would help with the security of the event to avoid the counterproductive presence of foreign flags, provocations, misbehavior, and, in general, to avoid any behavior at odds with the profile of the event that could later be used to distort the image we need to create. The people who engage in such behaviors will be invited to leave. (Assets in b 1 2 e)
d) The inauguration: The launching of the organization must capitalize as much as possible the moment of its inauguration. A strategic plan and a legislative proposal must help position it as a serious alternative if relevant political actors are present to receive the proposal and hear the merits of its strategic plan. To make this possible we must use our assets among professionals to polish our immigration proposal (b 1 f) in order to make it bullet proof. In order to not create unjustified fears among politicians, we should be able to have that bullet proof proposal ready well in advance in order to present it to the politiciansâ staff. Also, the idea is to present the proposal as the first among others other leaders might contribute to the platform. Part of our role would be to be that inclusive platform.
To highlight the importance of our contribution, he must make sure that moment has the proper coverage (b 1 2 a), that important leaders attend the event (b 1 2 c) and the potential contributors (b 1 3 a) are also present among the attendants.
The budget for this event is still to be determined but must be coordinated with other priorities. Anyway, the marginal cost of presenting the proposal and the invitation to other proposals is zero as it adds nothing to the original costs of the inauguration itself. On the contrary, it could give our organization the credibility to expect important donations from contributors. Not giving a clear sign from the beginning that we are actually a different brand of Hispanic activism may mean wasting the moment of our inauguration and ending up being another brick on the wall.
e) The immigrantâs tent: As another tactic related to image, we can adapt a successful Argentine experience to our effort of persuasion and voter registration: the Argentine Teacherâs Tent. As part of his re-electoral campaign, Menem promised the teachers a raise. Nevertheless, after the elections Menem did not provide on his promise trusting that any protest by the teachers would generate more antipathy than solidarity. The teachers created the Teachersâ Tent as a series of tents in strategic places where they could engage the press and the public and explain articulately their points of view (different from the noise of chanting slogans, typical of the traditional protest, in which the message is usually lost). A few weeks later, Menem had to provide on his promise. In our case, the immigrantâs tent could be placed in a mall where Hispanics usually go and be part of our tactic of persuasion and voter registration. If so, the ideal place to erect this tent for a few weekends would be Fairfax County.
The activist students for the Dream Act (b 1 1 a) would be of great help to develop this tactic. Potential contributors (b 1 3 a) and supporters with experience in events (b 1 3 b) could help with the logistic associated to this event (permits to erect a tent in a mall, transportation, tents, literature, etc). A budget for this event has not been made yet.
f) While the Civil Rights Movement went hand in hand with their intellectuals, the traditional pro-immigrant movement has usually shown hostility towards pro-immigrant think tanks. Thus, they not only have kept the latter out of their decisions but also, despite counting with excellent arguments from research made by pro-immigrant think tanks (from the Urban Institute to the Pew Hispanic Center to the conservative Cato Institute), they have preferred repeatedly to be the laughingstock in interviews and debates. A think tank that can generate and transmit research to media and political activists can make a fundamental difference with respect to the current status quo. Also in this there is an unfortunate vacuum in Hispanic activism that we can fill.
To fill this vacuum, during or immediately after (but preferably during) the inauguration, our organization can, as we present our legislative proposal as the fist but not the only one of the platform, convoke the Pew Hispanic Center and the Woodrow Wilson Institute (if possible, also the Cato Institute) (b 1 2 b) as well as other professional organizations (b 1 f) to contribute to the platform with their own proposals. In a future event we would select a group of proposals compatible with our principles to be presented to the relevant political leaders to whom we can appeal (b 1 2 c), to the grassroots organization (b 1 2 e) and to the media (b 1 2 a) which can transmit the merits of our proposals. These events could also be an opportunity to invite potential donors (b 1 3 a) and introduce them to the leaders friendly to our cause even before the PAC is constituted.
The best timing for the first event would be the moment of the inauguration, case in which its marginal cost is zero. The timing for the second event would be in a moment to be determined a few months later. A budget for the second event has not yet been determined but the exact moment could be programmed to match with the evolution of the inflow of donations and sponsors.
g) One way to keep our brand alive would be to count with columns of opinion in friendly media (b 1 2 a) while we prepare the launching of our think tank.
The marginal cost of this tactic would be zero.
h) Mastering emotive messaging is very important as it can generate the guilt that may break the adverse positioning built by xenophobic groups for years and, in the case of voter registration, persuasion and GOTV, motivate the targeted Hispanics to vote. As part of this tactic, low budget lines of actions may report important contributions. Letâs take what we will call Project Little Girl. This project consists of a series of posters that can be exhibited in friendly Hispanic businesses and newspapers (Assets b 1 2 a) and b 1 2 d)). In that poster an 8 to 10-year old girl looks sadly to the floor. The background is black to give the girlâs picture prominence. She wears a white T-shirt on which the phrase âillegal alienâ is grossly written. At her sides hands coming from the sleeves of expensive suits finger point her and in red types, under their sleeves, the phrases âcriminal,â âbrownie,â âterrorist,â and âget out of my countryâ can be read. In front of the girl, on the lower part of the poster, in bold yellow types, it says: âDonât turn your back on me. Vote.â Our Web page and 1-800 number appears below in smaller print.
The cost associated to this tactic is minimal: the cost of the casting and preparation of the poster of minimal as we can make it with El Caminoâs resources in a weekend. The cost of presenting our poster in friendly media would be zero. The cost of presenting that poster in the windows of members of Hispanic businesses (b 1 2 d) would depend of the contributions and collaboration of these chambers. The timing of this tactic would be during our effort of voter registration, persuasion and GOTV.
i) Especially because we hope to rely on visibility as a factor, no leader of our movement must speak in the name of the movement if he has not been properly prepared for interviews. An improvised presentation may destroy the attempt at positioning our new brand of activism in just a few minutes. The traditional movements have gotten used to make painful presentations in interviews and debates. That is a luxury we cannot afford.
The preparation for interviews consist in one or two sessions in which the advisors are going to literally attack the leaders soon to debate or to be interviewed with the hardest questions so at the moment the leader has to face the actual debate or interview, it is going to be easy for him to give a good performance. It is exactly the same kind of work a candidateâs advisors make when their candidate has to face debates. Of course, this supposes that the leader has to absorb a minimum quantity of processed information to make that result possible.
The marginal cost of this tactic is zero as it can be performed without additional monetary costs for IALAP or for El Camino.
j) Tactic incorporated to (f).
k) Having more than one legislative proposal gives extraordinary opportunities to reset the parameters of the debate. In example, in times of recession and of scarce resources for social programs, a gift from the immigrant community to the most affected Americans may come under the form of an important fine to be destined to a fund to support and train the native born most affected by the recession and/or by foreign competition. While xenophobic groups seduce the low skilled native sector with the illusion of better wages resulting from less competition in the labor market, our organization should be able to offer an alternative even more attractive, what is impossible without legislative proposals.
The marginal cost of these legislative proposals on our platform is zero.
2. Program of Volunteers
a) Persuasion, Voter Registration and GOTV: The program of volunteers is based in two columns: on one side, educated volunteers and students advocating for the Dream Act (b 1 1 a) can be used in tactics of persuasion directed to the general public while, on the other side, other volunteers can be used in GOTV efforts or persuasion directed basically to their own ethnic or labor group (b 1 2 e). As DCCC moves volunteers recruited basically in states overwhelmingly Democratic to swing states, our organization should be able to develop in states with important Hispanic presence like Maryland programs of volunteers who can be used in swing states like Virginia, where the Hispanic vote can make a difference at the margin. That is the reason to have targeted VA-11 (and, specifically, Fairfax County) to begin our activities on this line of action.
The costs of preparing volunteers would be negligible as we expect the collaboration of our assets in (b 1 2 e) to get training and develop ourselves the skills to provide such training. These same organizations should update us with respect to electoral legislation and other necessary information (i.e., about requirements for early voting). The marginal costs associated with the training should be negligible. Nevertheless, the budget related to transportation of volunteers, operations of the facility (including telephones) and literature are still to be determined and are going to be associated to the resources we can tap through the organization in b 1 2 e whose support we expect.
As mentioned before, the districts to which we are going to direct our resources will be at two levels: swing districts (like VA-11) where we could gain votes for the legislation we need to push and friendly districts where politicians could be willing to transmit our proposals to the floor of their chambers. So far we have targeted only VA-11.
b) The volunteers have a cellular organization. Each group has a representative who keeps an active contact, through telephone or e-mail, with the members of his cell. Thus we can keep the group alive even during periods of relatively inactivity and with lower budgets as a cellular organization regularly will not require massive and expensive activities. The representative of the group motivates and reinforces the training of its members for the tasks the movement needs and receive directives directly from the Board. Also, the representative gives us feedback to avoid the volunteers get bored or lose interest.
Our fundraising strategy is centered in our coordination with the PAC associated to us but we can make contributions in that directions through the tactic (e) for image mentioned before. Nevertheless, coordination with an already established PAC like Immigrantâs List or even the recent conservative Hispanic Leadership Fund might be explored in the future.
Assistance of other organizations in order to found the PAC with the right timing and characteristics is extremely important and we count with the assets (b 1 f and b 1 2 e) to help the PAC be born as an independent entity.
At the staff level and without any conflict with the By Laws, the method here proposed is based on the following structure: leader, advisor, and support. Each founder member of the movement takes one of these categories according to his capabilities. The leader is the person who works better attracting members, volunteers and supporters; it is the person who opens doors and gets contacts; it is, then, the person others follow. Itâs the salesman of the organization.
The advisor is the person who keeps himself informed and develops information to keep the leaders informed. It also evaluates the environment and makes suggestions and proposals to the movement and prepares the leader when it has to make a presentation to the media or has to debate opponents. This is the engineer of the organization.
Support is the person whose best skills are in management. It is the person who uses the organizationâs resources efficiently and sees that the tactics are performed according to what has been planned. In example, a Press Secretary is a Support person, as is the organizer of the hypothetical march with the characteristics described above when we discussed tactics related to image.
The founders form a Board. The Board has the final word with respect to the execution of tactics or affairs related with volunteers. This is already covered by the By Laws.
The volunteers are an essential part of the members recruited by the organization. They have a cellular organization. A cellular organization helps a low cost management of and feedback from of these resources even in times of slow activity.
Of course, if the movement is successful, the fact of having achieved successes where the traditional movements got only failures will be enough to launch the political careers of many of the founding members and others associated to our organization in a legitimate way.
Finally, I want to share with you again this photograph, the most beautiful one I have ever seen printed on immigration. Not angry faces with Mexican flags, not smirks on Hispanic naughty faces but images like this are what we need to transmit and incarnate what immigration reform should be. Incarnating it is not enough if we donât transmit it but, if some day, after years of alienation, the Hispanic community surrenders to charlatans courting it with the Latin American of doing politics, we would have stopped incarnating that image and then we will have betrayed all the victims of the American immigration system as well as the generation, who should have expected better from us, and, beyond its small group of racists and xenophobes, the country who should have expected better from us.