• Lizette Escobedo
  • Jul 21, 2014 2:33 PM

LA Youth Launch Fast to Support Immigrant Children Fleeing Violence

July 21, 2014
Contact: Jacob Hay, 855-2640

LA Youth Launch Fast to Support Immigrant Children Fleeing Violence | #FastingForChildren

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, seven young leaders, ages 15 to 22, from diverse backgrounds, launched a week-long fast in support of immigrant children and their families fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. The fasters are calling on Congress and President Obama to treat the the children and their families with compassion and to grant them refugee status.

The youth fasters will consume only water during the fast, which lasts until Friday at noon. They will stay at Father Serra Park near La Placita Olvera during the day. At night they will sleep at the adjacent La Plaza United Methodist Church.

“I know how it feels to not be born here and to be treated like an ‘alien’ from another planet,” said Edgar Gonzalez a 22 year old faster originally from Mexico. “These are children we are talking about. Someone needs to stand up for them.”

Fasters will be collecting supplies and monetary donations for the immigrant families, who have fled from violence, at the fast location in Los Angeles and online at The fasters will be visited and joined by immigration reform advocates from across the nation throughout the week.

“I was 10 years old when I first came to this country, so I can relate to what these children are going through,” said Sungwon Hong, a Korean American college student who is joining the fast. “I came here with my parents for a better life. It was hard at first but now I am attending college and able to reach for my dreams. I want the same for the kids escaping violence in Central America.”

“I am proud to stand in solidarity with these young people,” said Alease Wilson a 18 year old African-American faster. “I am fasting to support children that were forced from their country. They should be treated with compassion and humanity.”

“When I see the children suffering and being mistreated at the border, I think about my mom who came here from Honduras when she was 20,” said Janio Alvarado, a 15 year old faster. “I see myself in those children. If my mom didn’t come to this country before I was born, I might have been forced into the choice of risking my life coming here or staying behind to face violence and poverty.”

“My heart broke hearing stories on the news of all the children forced to leave their country because they did not feel safe. I understand how scared they must be because 12 years ago, I was one of them,” said faster Yamilex Rustrian a faster and recent high school graduate who left Guatemala at age seven with her younger sister after their father was killed by gang-members.

Organizations supporting the fasters include the Dreamers Action Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Bending the Arch, the Center for Community Change, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA), the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Community Coalition, the Korean Resource Center, the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Mi Familia Vota, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California State Council and SEIU Locals.


  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jul 07, 2014 4:23 PM

Court Rules to Extend Drivers License Access to DACA Recipients in Arizona

For Immediate Release

July 7, 2014

Contact: Lizette Escobedo,, (858) 583-5014


Court Rules to Extend Drivers License Access to DACA Recipients in Arizona

Mi Familia Vota: The ruling is a victory for justice, common sense and public safety over mean-spirited policies

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DACA recipients can now get driver’s licenses after 9th circuit ruled against Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s executive order that denied giving driver’s licenses to young immigrants who have qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The court found that these young immigrants were being treated unfairly by the state by being denied equal protection rights and that there was a likelihood that immigrants would be harmed by the governor’s order.

“The ruling is a great court victory. The court has allowed common sense to prevail over Arizona’s mean-spirited legislation and policies. This is a victory not just for DACA recipients but for all Arizonans because it also benefits public safety and our economy. We hope that Governor Brewer gets the message and begins to look for solutions instead of creating unnecessary legal battles” said Mi Familia Vota’s Executive Director, Ben Monterroso.

“Today is a great day for us Arizona DREAMers and DACA recipients” added Cristian Avila, Mi Familia Vota Arizona Civic Engagement Canvasser, DREAMer, and Advocate for immigration reform. “Not only because we will finally be able to get a state drivers license but because it is also a great stride in our larger fight for equality within our state. The court has sided with justice today and this empowers us to continue to engage and empower our community in hopes that justice will continue to prevail. I will continue to work hard to register and engage Latino voters so that our state and our country can continue to move in the right direction” he concluded.

In August of 2012, Governor Brewer issued the executive order to deny driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. Last year, a judge rejected immigrant rights advocates’ argument that the Governor’s policy was unconstitutional. Brewer revised the policy, denying driver’s licenses to every one who received deportation notices, but immigrants’ rights advocates said that was just an attempt to undermine their case.


  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jul 02, 2014 1:57 PM

VIDEO: What President Obama Said About Immigration Reform

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced that he will take executive action to provide administrative relief to the over 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. 

Obama said that since the House has not moved forward with an immigration reform bill, he will now act on his own. 

Here’s the full video of what the president had to say: 


  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jul 01, 2014 12:31 PM

While GOP House Leaders Abandon Ship, Latino and AAPI Communities Keep Score

For Immediate Release

July 1, 2014

Contact: See below


While GOP House Leaders Abandon Ship, Latino and AAPI Communities Keep Score

Immigrant communities on track to deliver 2014 National Immigration Scorecard


WASHINGTON, DC -- With House Republican leadership throwing away the best chance in recent decades to reform the immigration system, national Latino and Asian American and Pacific Islander groups are renewing their combined pledge to inform their communities of Congress’ failure to do its job.

Final scores of all 435 House members regarding votes and inaction on immigration reform are being tabulated and will be released in late July for nationwide distribution.

Preliminary results of the 2014 National Immigration Scorecard, released in late May, showed how House GOP leaders’ failure to bring immigration reform to the House for a vote caused failing scores for members who are facing demands from constituents, business and faith leaders for an updated immigration system.

The following is a joint statement of scorecard sponsors, including Hispanic Federation, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Council of La Raza, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Voto Latino, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Japanese American Citizens League, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, and OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates:

“Instead of acting on immigration reform, the GOP-controlled House has decided to increase its legislative and rhetorical attacks against immigrant communities, following the lead of anti-immigrant extremists in its party.”

“These avenues of attacks against immigrants, including threats to do away with the highly successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for immigrant children with long-standing ties in the U.S., deepens the party’s damage with our communities.”

“The Latino and AAPI communities will be informed in coming weeks on how members behaved on the issue -- whether they championed immigration reform, did nothing, or blocked legislation. The fate of Congress’ standing with ethnic and immigrant communities is in their hands.”


APALA: William Chiang, wchiang@apalanet.org202-508-3733

Hispanic Federation: Joshua Silvia, jsilvia@hispanicfederation.org202-641-7186

Japanese American Citizens League Tara Naoko Ohrtman, tohrtman@jacl.org202-223-1240

LCLAA: Victor Baten, Vbaten@lclaa.org202-508-6989

LULAC: Jossie Sapunar, jsapunar@lulac.org202-833-6130

Mi Familia Vota: Lizette Escobedo lizettee@mifamiliavota.org858- 583-5014

NAKASEC: Diana Bui dbui@nakasec.org202-670-1622

NCLR: Joseph Rendeiro, jrendeiro@nclr.org202-776-1566

OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates: Ken Lee, 223-5500

Voto Latino: Jimmy Hernandez, jimmy@votolatino.org305-720-0699


  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jul 01, 2014 9:18 AM

California Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Paid Family Leave Program Benefiting More than One Million Families

California Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Paid Family Leave Program

Benefiting More than One Million Families

State Elected Officials, Labor Leaders, Community Advocates, Parents and Caregivers Share Research on Nation’s First Paid Family Leave Program; Highlight Need for Increased Awareness Among Low-Income, Hourly And Latino Workers

To view personal stories about Paid Family Leave in California, go to

 Sacramento, CA—In a press conference today, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson will join Labor Secretary David Lanier, Employment Development Department (EDD) director Patrick Henning, Assemblymember Rob Bonta as well as family research experts, community advocates, parents and caregivers to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of California’s Paid Family Leave program—the first-of-its-kind family leave program in the nation. Since being implemented in July 2004, the Paid Family leave program has helped more than 1.7 million working Californians take up to six weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child or care for a sick family member. Starting today, the first expansion of the benefit will allow California workers to care for additional family members—siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law.

The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, is sponsoring the event with the California Labor Federation, and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. The organizations were instrumental in passing both the original Paid Family Leave legislation, and its expansion.

A national conversation is now taking place about paid family leave—sparked by last year’s introduction of the FAMILY Act (Gillibrand, D-NY) and the recent White House Summit on Working Families—that holds up California’s program as a model. But despite the importance of paid family leave nationally, many eligible Californians remain unaware of the state’s program. Nearly every private-sector worker in California contributes a portion of their salary to the State Disability Insurance (SDI) system that disburses benefits, but only a fraction ever make claims. In Los Angeles County, for example, only 31.4 percent of eligible workers are aware of the program. Awareness is lowest among low-income workers, hourly workers and Latinos.

“During a time when more families depend on two incomes, more single-parent households exist and all families are struggling financially, our Paid Family Leave program is more important than ever in helping Californians balance workplace needs with family responsibilities,” said Ann O’Leary, Vice President and Director of the Children & Families program at Next Generation. “Paid family leave keeps working women employed, as it ensures that women—the primary caregivers for children and sick family members—can take leave for caregiving without risking their livelihood. Research has repeatedly shown that this benefits our communities and our economy.”

A 2011 research report by Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman, “Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Family Leave in California,” showed that:

  • New mothers with paid leave benefits go back to work faster and are less likely to drop out of the labor force;
  • Fathers with paid leave are more likely to take time off from work for the birth or illness of a child;
  • Paid family leave reduces absenteeism and turnover;
  • Employers have reported either a positive effect or no noticeable effect on business profitability and productivity.

“Californians have benefited for more than ten years from this program, but millions more could be using these benefits to help their families succeed,” said Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the California Labor Federation. “We need to make sure that all workers know their rights under this legislation, and that they can make use of the money regularly set aside in their paychecks for the care of their families when needed.”

“We already know that paid leave helps new mothers breastfeed longer and helps ill or injured adults receive high quality, loving care,” said Sharon Terman, Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. “The recent expansion—formerly known as SB 770—will help many more families get the peace of mind and care they deserve. But we must make sure that we continue our outreach efforts so that groups that are currently unaware of this program don’t miss out.”

“I’m overjoyed at the progress that has been made to spread the word about our Paid Family Leave program,” said Donna Benton, a professional caregiver whose husband used paid leave benefits last year to care for his ailing mother.  “However, awareness and use of the program is still too low. I am thankful to the legislators and community organizations that 10 years ago recognized the critical need to help people like me balance work and family.  The paid family leave program lessens my financial strain and most importantly, supports what I value most—my family.”

Research reports released today by the Employment Development Department and the California Senate Office of Research highlight personal stories of Californians who have used Paid Family Leave, and trends of use among different demographics.


Anastasia Ordonez                                                              







About California Work & Family Coalition

The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, is an alliance of community organizations, unions and non-profits protecting every California worker’s right to put their family first. We work together to promote work family policies that help parents, caregivers, children and families thrive.

Learn more at and on Twitter @WorkFamilyCA.

About California Labor Federation

The California Labor Federation is dedicated to promoting and defending the interests of working people and their families for the betterment of California’s communities.

About Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center

Founded in 1916, the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center protects the rights and economic self-sufficiency of low-income workers by providing free legal services, education and advocacy. LAS-ELC’s Work and Family Program advocates for the employment rights of pregnant workers, new parents and employees facing family medical crises. Learn more at and on Twitter @LASELC.

About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans:  The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at, and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.

  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jun 30, 2014 2:03 PM

GOP Fails to Act on Immigration Reform Amidst Election Season, Forcing President to Act

For Immediate Release

June 30, 2014


Contact: Lizette Escobedo,,

(858) 583-5014


GOP Fails to Act on Immigration Reform Amidst Election Season, Forcing President to Act

Mi Familia Vota: Republicans played with Latino and immigrant communities by pretending to be interested in solutions and ended up doing nothing 


WASHINGTON, DC -- President Obama announced today he will do as much as possible to provide administrative relief to immigrants already in the country through executive action that does not require congressional approval. His announcement came after he was informed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH that the House will not be voting on commonsense immigration reform.

Mi Familia Vota’s Executive Director, Ben Monterroso issued the following reaction:

“Absent congressional action, it is up to President Obama to use his executive authority to provide some type of relief to the thousands of families suffering because of a dysfunctional immigration system. While not a permanent long-term solution to the issue, we welcome necessary actions.

"The president is acting because Congress has not. Instead of finding solutions, the House GOP leadership has decided to play politics with the immigrant and Latino communities, refusing to understand or care about the issue and the consequences it has for our community.

“What's worse is that, while coming up with excuses during the last year for not scheduling votes to move the country forward, the House GOP leadership has decided to move the country backwards, siding with the House extremists to deport DREAMers and hurt immigrant families.

“Despite bipartisan support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship across the country, House Republicans are in disarray and are letting a small but loud anti-immigrant minority in the caucus take the lead with its anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation.

“The bottom-line is this -- if the House won't work with us, we will work to elect a Congress who will! We commend President Obama for taking action in the absence of action on Capitol Hill.

“Now more than ever our community and our movement is determined to move its strategic organizing tactics and diverse coalition of supporters to ensure that voters hold Congress accountable in the November election. Latino voters will know where members and political parties stood on immigration reform when they go to the polls this November. We will work to ensure that our Latino and immigrant communities use their frustration to act and march to the polls.”





  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jun 25, 2014 5:28 PM

Work Over Family? Why Family Values in the Workplace Matter To Me

This post originally appeared on www.mLizette

This week I had the opportunity to attend the White House Summit on Working Families, where I got to meet advocates, labor leaders, media, and other working mothers, all looking to address issues of workplace flexibility, equal pay, workplace discrimination, opportunities for low-wage workers, and other issues.

The summit was particularly significant to me because it focused on women as breadwinners. As a single mother of an energetic 4-year-old, I know the difficulty of balancing a demanding career while single-handedly providing for my daughter, and making time to enjoy the first years of her young life.

As much as I was overcome with joy when I first held her in my arms, I also understood that the decision to be a single mother and head of household would require many difficult choices and sacrifices such as putting my career growth on hold.  But I was prepared for the challenge. Those difficulties began just before my daughter was born.

When I was eight months pregnant with my daughter I faced a difficult choice between my job and my Masters in Management program because it became harder and harder to get approvals at work to leave early to make it to class on time or arrive late due to morning doctor’s appointments. I could quit my job to pursue a graduate degree or give up on my educational goals and keep working to have health insurance to cover my prenatal care and the assurance that my daughter would be born into a financially stable single parent home.

Thanks to the enactment of California SB 1661, I was eligible to apply for Paid Family Leave through the state’s Family Temporary Disability Insurance program to bond with my newborn. Under this paid leave policy however, I was only granted a portion of my salary, which was not sufficient to make ends meet. Also, according to income guidelines I made a little too much money to qualify for any other type of assistance. Add to that the cost of diapers and baby formula, student loan, rent and car payments, and I found myself calling creditors to ask for payment extensions and lower payments on my bills. The financial stress of that time took away from my joy as a new mother.

To minimize my financial hardships I worked until three days prior to giving birth to my daughter and went back to work exactly six weeks later. My heart ached because I missed her -- she was only 40 days old -- but job demands and the commitment to my community forced me to get back to work. I had a Census enumeration campaign I had to help lead to ensure Latinos were counted and our communities received the proper representation.

Through my current work with Mi Familia Vota Education Fundand the Family Values at Work coalition I learned that there are some states that do not offer any type of paid leave. This reminded me of the many hardships my parents had to endure as we were growing up.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom my and my father never spoke up at work as a manual laborer because of his limited English and his fear of losing his job that supported five children. Years into his work, my father was injured but continued working with a fractured back because any time off to go to the doctor, if approved without pay, would mean an incomplete rent payment, no groceries that week, or requesting another extension on those past due payments. He eventually had three surgeries and was declared permanently disabled.

I work as an immigrant rights advocate for a nonprofit organization and see immigrant women facing similar discrimination because of their status. They fear losing work and hourly pay due to pregnancy. Women in mixed status families worry daily whether a family member -- usually a wage earner -- will suddenly disappear, spirited away by an immoral immigration enforcement program that carries out needless deportations. What happens to them, as immigrant women, is an injustice

It is because of my experiences as the daughter of one of the millions of over-worked and under-paid immigrant workers, and as a single mother and head of household, that I understand the importance of paid family leave and paid sick leave.

Working families need support for The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a proposal that would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they face a serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery; a serious health issue involving a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner; the birth or adoption of a child. It also would guarantee access to paid sick days, something that many workers in the U.S. -- including immigrants -- do not have.

I advocate for these issues because I want my daughter to grow up in a society that provides and protects workers through fair and equitable policies.

  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jun 25, 2014 10:05 AM

Mi Familia Vota: GOP House Leaders’ New Attack on Immigrants Further Damages the GOP Brand

For Immediate Release

June 25, 2014


Contact: Lizette Escobedo, 583-5014


Bipartisan Bill for Today’s “New Americans” Undermined as GOP Threatens to Undo “DREAMers” Program


Mi Familia Vota: GOP House leaders’ new attack on immigrants further damages the GOP brand in our Latino and immigrant communities

WASHINGTON, DC -- As California Democrat Tony Cardenas and Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced the “New Americans Success Act,” which would help immigrants integrate in their communities, GOP committee chiefs launched new attacks against the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children without documents.

The latest attack against the DACA program was by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, who asked House Republicans to sign on to a letter demanding that President Obama end the program that allows eligible young immigrants to live and work in the U.S. Earlier on Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House Homeland Security Committee blamed the DACA program for the humanitarian crisis at the Texas-Mexico border, where children from Central American countries are fleeing domestic turmoil.

The following is a statement by Mi Familia Vota Executive Director Ben Monterroso:

“Despite legislative chaos and angry partisanship in Washington, Reps. Cardenas and Ros-Lehtinen formed a bipartisan partnership on a measure that would help “New Americans” succeed in their communities by increasing their access to English language and civics classes and support to become U.S. citizens. Mi Familia Vota’s mission is to promote civic engagement, including citizenship, and we applaud this thoughtful, much-needed legislation.

“Unfortunately, the efforts of Cardenas and Ros-Lehtinen are undermined by a Congress where anti-immigrant extremists control the agenda and the message. Instead of seeking solutions to the real humanitarian crisis involving children, Republicans have resorted to a sad political attack against another set of children, the DREAMers. This is immoral and outrageous.

“The highly successful DACA program is for young people with long-standing ties in the U.S. who are American in every way except that they lack legal permanent status. Through DACA, these young immigrants have been able to finally put their college degrees and skills to use and contribute to the nation that is their home." 

By their disrespectful actions, the GOP-controlled House continues damaging its party brand with Latino and immigrant communities and forming a record that will not be easily erased. As our nation continues its demographic shift into a minority majority, and the Latino electorate continues its growth and influence, our communities will know the records of those who stood with our communities and those who rejected our issuesIt is a record that will long be remembered. 

On Twitter: @MiFamiliaVota


  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jun 19, 2014 12:49 PM

National Latino and AAPI Leaders Tell McCarthy: Set a Date for Immigration Reform or Own Killing America’s Best Chance for a Lasting Solution

For Immediate Release

June 20, 2014

Contact: See below

National Latino and AAPI Leaders Tell McCarthy:

Set a Date for Immigration Reform or

Own Killing America’s Best Chance

for a Lasting Solution

WASHINGTON, DC – National Latino and AAPI leaders released the following statement today after House Republicans elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as Majority Leader. McCarthy represents a largely farmworker district that is 35% Latino and 5% Asian American and Pacific Islander. The election comes on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Senate passage of S.744, a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed with a vote of 68 to 32. The following is a statement by national Latino and AAPI organizations: 

“With his ascension up the House GOP leadership ladder, McCarthy now has an opportunity to lead his party’s conference toward a broad, pragmatic solution favored by a majority of voters across the U.S. and in his district. As McCarthy once said, ‘We’re all up for office every two years; we should be very reflective of what America thinks.' 

“The new Majority Leader can either schedule a House floor vote on workable immigration reform or he can kill the best chance in decades to fix the immigration system and miss a big opportunity to work with Latino, AAPI, and immigrant communities. Our communities and our country need a response now.” 

Recently, the leaders of six national Latino groups and four Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups issued preliminary congressional scorecards that showed the GOP leadership -- including McCarthy -- failing Latino and AAPI communities on the critical issue of immigration reform. Final scores will be released in July, with a renewed commitment to educate Latino, AAPI and all interested communities on who has led on immigration reform and who has obstructed progress on this critical issue. 

The organizations issuing the scorecards include: Hispanic Federation, Labor Council of Latin American Citizens, National Council of La Raza, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Voto Latino, National Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Japanese AmericanCitizens League, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, and OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates.


NAKASEC: Diana Bui 202-670-1622

Hispanic Federation: Joshua Silvia,, 202-641-7186

LCLAA: Victor Baten,, 202-508-6989

LULAC: Jossie Sapunar,, 202-833-6130

Mi Familia Vota: Lizette Escobedo, 858- 583-5014

NCLR: Joseph Rendeiro,, 202-776-1566



  • Lizette Escobedo
  • Jun 16, 2014 1:45 PM

Mi Familia Vota Ed Fund “DREAMers” Named “Champions of Change” by White House

For Immediate Release

June 16, 2014


Contact: Lizette Escobedo, (858)


Mi Familia Vota Ed Fund “DREAMers”

Named “Champions of Change”

by White House

 “DACA” recipients to participate at White House event


WASHINGTON, DC -- Two “DREAMers” who are members of the Mi Familia Vota (MFV) Education Fund Latino civic engagement teams in Colorado and Texas will be honored at the White House as “Champions of Change” on June 17, the Obama Administration announced Monday.


The honorees include Fernanda Zaragoza-Gomez, 19, a Canvass Lead in Mi Familia Vota Education Fund’s Pueblo, CO office, and Steven Arteaga Rodriguez, 19, a Volunteer Coordinator for MFV Education Fund in Houston, TX. Both began working for MFV Education Fund to help grow Latino civic participation after applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was put in place by President Obama. DACA allows them to live and work in the U.S. even though they were brought to the country without documents. The White House event will mark the second anniversary of President Obama’s DACA initiative.


“These Champions distinguished themselves through their community involvement and the hard work they put into helping other members of their academic and professional communities succeed. This event will showcase these inspirational young leaders and highlight the importance of providing talented young people with the opportunity to realize their full potential,” the White House said in a statement announcing the recognition.


The Obama Administration created the Champions of Change program to “feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.”


The MFV recipients have worked on community empowerment through their work at MFVEF.


“My father was deported and I never saw him again before he died. But I know he would want me to keep striving for a better life and higher education,” said Zaragoza-Gomez, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology and business management at Colorado State University-Pueblo. “I will keep working with Mi Familia Vota to grow Latino voter participation and push for commonsense immigration reform so that one day, other families won’t have to be separated, like I was from my father.”


The second honoree, Rodriguez, was only two months old when he was brought to the U.S. with his older brother and sister. “Through MFV, I’ve been able to work towards bringing change in my community, and to educate others on the importance of elections and voting. After all, it was an election that facilitated the opportunity to officially work through my DACA status,” Rodriguez said. “I hope that those who learn my story are encouraged to vote and stay involved so that the justice I seek will become a reality, not only for myself and my family, but for millions of families like ours across the U.S.”


MFV Education Fund Executive Director Ben Monterroso praised the leadership skills that Zaragoza-Gomez and Rodriguez have shown in their respective state of Colorado and Texas. “The White House recognition stems from their dedication to growing the political empowerment of the Latino community. While they are not citizens and not allowed to vote, Zaragoza-Gomez and Rodriguez work with MFV Education Fund every day to inform the Latino communities in their cities of important issues, such as commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship,” Monterroso added.


On Twitter: #WHChamps, @MiFamiliaVota



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