We recently interviewed Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director at The Center for Popular Democracy, where we talked about the organization’s vision and goals. In this second part of the interview, we talked about the immigrant rights movement, recent positive changes in congressional representation, and what she sees on the horizon for CDP.
What is your story as part of the immigrant rights movement?
I came to this country as a teenager, when I was seventeen, from Colombia. I was so lucky to find a home in the immigrant rights movement, and I spent thirteen years building an immigrant rights organization in New York City called Make the Road New York. It’s the place where I learned how important it is to have a space, to build community, to build power together, to change our city, to change our country.
What are some of the issues that The Center for Popular Democracy is fighting for?
We are fighting to make sure that this economy works for all of us. We have seen how corporations and the very very wealthy have managed to get a hold on our democracy, to really buy their way to power and to control many of the politicians in our country. So we are trying to change the rules of our economy so that those that have benefited the most from the labor of everyone contribute and make our country more just.
We are working to make sure that we end the policies of mass incarceration and criminalization of black and brown communities and we are working to make sure that we take the money out of the criminalization apparatus and put it in the things that give people the opportunity to survive and to thrive.
We are facing the worst and most existential threat to our planet with climate change and our country, as long as politicians are kind of captured by the oil industry and all the other industries that want to ignore the reality of climate change, we will contribute to the destruction of our planet and our children and great-grandchildren are not going to have a place to live. So we are working to make sure that we write policies that protect the planet and that change our economy so that we can stay alive on this planet.
What positive changes have you seen recently?
The Resistance showed up in an electoral form, and women decided to run for office across the country, many of them run for Congress for the first time, got elected, and so now we have a new class of Congress that is the most female, the most diverse, with many women of color, really leading the resistance to Trump from inside the halls of congress. And we are working very closely with many of them. With Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we recently helped draft policy to guarantee the right to housing for everyone in this country; with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington State we worked really closely to pass legislation to protect dreamers and TPS holders, and kind of define a new vision for migration in this country. And also to put into legislative language what we think should be a right in this country, which is the right to healthcare, so working very closely with her on Medicare for All. And we are also working with other very progressive members of Congress to advance a vision on racial, economic, and gender justice and to fight back against climate change.
What would you like to see CPD become in the future?
I want CPD to be not an organization but a movement, a political home for people who believe that we can, in fact, build a country where everyone lives with dignity, where every person feels safe, in their communities, in their families, in their homes, in the streets. Where everyone feels that democracy is how we take care of each other, and where people feel pride in the effort that they have contributed to make this country a more just place.
Click here to watch the first part of this interview.
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