When we organize we win

Dedicated volunteers and leaders made the first steps to reverse the damage to our community.

They started by voting out the elected officials who campaigned on xenophobia and targeted our families with discriminatory laws. The first to fall was Mesa Senator Russell Pearce, author of the SB1070 bill and Senate President. Our community organized new and under-engaged voters by knocking doors, having personal conversations, and storytelling to activate voters in an off-year recall election. With Pearce’s historic defeat, undocumented youth and their closest family and friends witnessed that they could affect elections in Arizona. In 2012, the community challenged the notorious Sheriff Arpaio and were 6 points away from defeating him. That power grew and in 2016, Arpaio was voted out after over 24 years in office.

Right away, we started to deliver on our commitment. Right away, we started to see more organizations grow - more organizations join the One Arizona coalition. Year after year, there has been a delivery on that commitment of stopping laws like SB1070. The landscape of Arizona is completely different from what it was in 2010



In the beginning, we worked to help candidates get elected but over time, those elected officials moved away from the values that earned the support of the community. That hard lesson moved our leaders to start taking up seats of power themselves and running for elected office.

After years of community building and organizing, moms, sisters, brothers, families and friends are able to celebrate their victory over hate.

Through time, it was clear that the candidates who were on our side when they got elected were not holding true to those values. Despite the work done to win them their seats, these candidates were not accountable to the community. It wasn’t enough that more Latinxs were elected, the candidates needed to be champions for our causes. This pushed pillars of the community to trade in their megaphones for microphones and run for elected office. Raquel Terán, leader from Mi Familia Vota, Planned Parenthood and countless other orgs, won her race for Arizona State Representative in 2018. Movement leaders like Carlos Garcia from Puente and Betty Guardado from CASE were elected into Phoenix City Council in 2019. Regina Romero broke through the glass ceiling and became the first Latina to be elected Tucson Mayor.

10 years of organizing came with heartbreak and victories

The collective tenacity of the movement resulted in growth in power and multiple victories.

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  • Through direct action and civil disobedience, many deportations were delayed and stopped by physically stopping buses from leaving ICE headquarters. Behind the scenes, members of congress were lobbied by the community, giving people in proceedings more time to fight their cases and reunite with their families.

  • Despite winning DACA, Arizona refused to honor the new status and give rights to Undocumented students, including driver’s licenses and in-state tuition. Undocumented students continued to organize and through a series of lawsuits, in-state tuition was won for DACAmented people.

  • With wages stagnating for years across the countries and our families over-represented in minimum wage service industry work, leaders pushed for higher wages to lift the quality of living of our families.

  • Leaders realized that immigration was not the only issue affecting our community. Another barrier to our community’s success was being able to provide for their families. The Fight for $15 demanded a higher minimum wage for all workers, and Prop 206 passed, giving Arizona workers paid sick leave and a higher, more livable minimum wage.

  • On election day in 2016, volunteers knocked doors from early in the morning into the late afternoon. The evening of the election, the same volunteers watched and waited as election results rolled in with music, food, and art.

  • After 24 years of raids, breaking up communities, and hurting families, Joe Arpaio was voted out office. Once the results were announced, the community marched to the Sheriff’s office and placed an eviction notice on Arpaio’s doorstep.

  • Raquel Terán, stalwart advocate for immigrant rights, is sworn in by former State Senator and long-time activist Alfredo Guttierrez, surrounded by the future leaders of Arizona. This moment represents the legacy of organizing in Arizona and the future of our movement.

  • Carlos Garcia from Puente Human Rights Movement and newly inaugurated to the Phoenix City Council, addresses a crowd of supporters, quipping that he never expected to be speaking as an elected official. Carlos is one of many members of the movement community that took the leap into elected leadership and worked to represent the community at the next level.

  • Betty Guardado, hotel worker and member of Unite Here and Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy, is sworn into the Phoenix City Council by Raquel Terán, showing two more examples of movement leaders trading their megaphones of activism to microphones of elected leadership.

  • In February of 2020, Poder in Action and the newly elected city council members succeeded in implementing the most powerful civilian oversight board over police in the country. With police violence disproportionately affecting Black and Latinx community members, and as the largest enforcers of SB1070, it was vital that civilians had the ability to hold their police department accountable. Over 30 years of this work came down to a 5-4 vote in favor of the tough model of oversight over Phoenix Police.

  • SB1070 was not the first anti-immigrant law and it wasn’t the last. The most recent attempt in 2020 was a feeble attempt to rally the conservative base during a Presidential election year. But through concentrated community efforts against xenophobic laws, it was the last of it’s kind to pass through the legislature.


2010 was not the last year bad laws were attempted. In 2011, 5 bills to supplement SB1070 were introduced in the legislature. As a result of new organizing, protest, and community building, those bills were stopped in their tracks. The state was in the middle of an economic boycott and $140 million of revenue was lost in canceled concerts, canceled conferences, and overall lower tourism to Arizona. Families had left the state, hurting industries that depended on their labor. Arizona’s anti-immigrant reputation was working against the same people that criminalized us, our friends, and our families!

Policymaking was more than immigration issues and more than just playing defense against discriminatory laws - it was about making it possible for our community to thrive. In 2016, with the leadership of LUCHA and collective organizing from One Arizona organizations, a ballot proposition raising the minimum wage and granting paid sick leave was passed, giving working-class families more to live on and making it possible to flourish instead of just survive.

In 2020, through Poder in Action and with newly inaugurated council members on the city council, Phoenix passed a civilian review board, giving the community a tool to reign in bad cops and protect black and brown youth from discrimination and police violence.

In early 2020, One Arizona collectively halted election-year fear-mongering by speaking out against more anti-immigrant legislation from appearing on the ballot as constitutional amendments.

The power that was missing in 2010 has blossomed into community strength. The movement has come of age, we are the next generation of leaders pushing Arizona to be the prosperous, equitable home we dream it can be. There is still more to do, but together we are moving the state forward.


It takes all of us to lead into Arizona’s next chapter

The fights and victories of the past ten years have shown us how community power can give us hope for the future. We are still growing from playing defense into transforming our communities to work for us. It takes all kinds of people to build a better Arizona. How do you want to be a part of the next 10 years of history?

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