From Arizona to the White House

November 24, 2014

"What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal, that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will."
- President Obama, 11/20/2014, announcing a series of executive actions on immigration

Last Thursday night, President Obama reminded us that we are a country of immigrants, “We are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.” And then he defined a course of action to start the tough work of fixing a broken system.

President Obama stepped up and is taking action in the absence of congressional leadership. But he also reminded us that our work is far from over, his actions can only offer a temporary reprieve for millions of people shutout of our country’s promise.

With that, I set off to Washington D.C. and spent Friday in that very same White House where hours earlier President Obama delivered his immigration speech. I came because President Obama is right, our work is far from over. So from coast to coast, from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border, Wellstone’s at the heart of the effort to finish that work.

I went to the White House with the New American Leaders Project (NALP), a long term partner of Wellstone. I was there with over 50 alumni who are elected officials. All of us identify as New American leaders due to our recent immigration histories, all of us are leaders in our community, and all of us are ready to get to work to build a democracy of open doors, of a shared future.

With NALP, I led a strategic power mapping session that will guide us as we fight, organize and mobilize for real solutions in our home communities. And on Friday night, I proudly received the Rising Star Award from NALP, a reflection of my work as a Colorado State Senator where my colleagues recently elected me Democratic Caucus Chair. 

Let’s be clear, immigration is a national issue and real progress must eventually come from D.C. But enduring change will start from the states, so that’s where Wellstone’s building progressive infrastructure that will sustain us for the long-haul.

That’s why on Monday I was in Arizona, the epicenter of the immigration debate, the home of SB 1070. I was there to lead a voting rights training with One Arizona, a coalition of a dozen nonprofits dedicated to voter registration and voter engagement for the Latino community. 

Together, the members of the One Arizona coalition are collecting stories and better understanding the outcome, and the turnout, of the 2014 election. And together we worked to chart a strategy for their 2015 legislative session and build a bold agenda for progress.

That was my week, starting in Arizona, ending at the White House. The fight for progress is not always easy. The struggle to build that America of open doors will take a sustained movement. I’m proud to be part of it. I’m reminded that Paul Wellstone was the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, so I’m especially proud that Wellstone Action is building on his legacy, crafting that democracy where everyone’s in, no one’s out, no exceptions.

We’re getting to work. Will you join us?