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Dignity is Here stencil

With an opponent like Mitt Romney its a valid question why we are heading to the Democratic National Convention.

The platform coming out of the Republican National Convention and the politics of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan send a clear message of where the party stands.  It represents a roll back not only to immigrant communities, it also rolls back civil and labor rights, the rights of women, bans marriage equality.  All this plus it promises more of the same economic policy continues to advantage the 1% at the cost of the 99%.

Steve and Ben at Atlanta rally

We are riding a 1972 MCI Challenger bus in our journey across the southwestern and southeastern part of the United States.  This bus, who came baptized with the name ‘Priscila’ has been used in organizing tours mostly on climate justice issues.  Inside she is more like an RV, with benches, a small kitchen and even bunk beds in the back.

 August 29, 2012

2012-08-28 15.48.51

Its been more than a few times that while driving in between cities butterflies appear around us, and I’ve wondered whether or not they’re coming along for the ride or if its simply normal for them to be in these parts this time of the year.  Their timing coincides with the image of the butterfly growing as a symbol of this ride. That is one of the funnest things to experience in organizing – when something begins to take on a life of its own.  I love the possibility of an idea, a sense of something and not having a clue what it will become in the end. I am thankful that I am still willing to try things that I don’t have an idea of what the outcome will be. But having a sense of the possibility, and that it could be good, makes taking a chance, the risk is worth it.


In the magic hour, under the light of a full moon it was a long good bye in Phoenix Arizona for a group setting off to defy unjust laws in order to dignify them.

The scene was frenetic. A group hunched over a generator, trying out the 5th theory of how to kick start some a/c. The flowing finishing touches of clear coat paint, a labor of love created by many different people. Bags being packed, like a crowded freeway when everyone’s trying to get home.

Once on the plane, leaving Phoenix, I peered down at my feet. Bad choice to wear chanclas (that’s flip flops or cholas in case you wonderin’) on a long day, the Supreme Court 1070 decision day. The week before had been full and buzzing busy with the General Assmebly of the Universalist Unitarians, which culminated with several thousand people coming to witness at the doorsteps of Sheriff Arpaio’s infamous tent city. Then on Monday, starting early, many of us gathered to wait for the decision. And it was a decision I think most probably expected. A whirlwind day, humid for Phoenix standards where folks jumped into the fray to offer their perspective to the decision. And a day where we ended up gathering at the ICE offices in Central Phoenix, to punctuate our response and resolve. I left the rally to catch a flight back to Seattle, and there I am, on the plane with a bit of a surreal feeling, multiple layers of sweat, and my dirty feet. Sit back and try to orient myself. What just happened and what now?

It honestly felt a bit like de ja vu. Like I been here before.

A mixed decision, one that stopped several provisions of the law but also allowed to move forward what many call the heart of 1070 – the part that says that in a lawful stop, law enforcement can ask people who they ‘reasonably suspect’ as not being in the state legally for their documentation.

Now that the dust has cleared, I can see why both sides claimed victory.

Power blue sky blushes at sunset. A welcome sight after a hard day of heat in Phoenix Arizona. After rush hour dies down, in any given barrio in the valley you can hear the sound of kids playing in the street if you listen hard enough. Somewhere, friends have met for happy hour, football practice is starting, dinner is on the stove. I sit on my momma’s porch, give the chicano nod to cars cruising by when I recognize the drivers. Born and bred in this place, I find myself here again, after having been gone for years. And every time I come home, there are some things I recognize, some things I don’t. Just like I am still the same, and somehow, now different.

I’m back in Arizona once again, we await the Supreme Court decision on the case between the state of Arizona and the federal government. I’m reposting two articles I wrote a few years ago in the days after the passage of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona. I was back home, in a moment of upheaval, outrage and determination to respond. This article comes from the days before the July 29th actions & civil disobedience. -m

—- and now back to it…

So I have to say, I wasn’t surprised when I heard about the passage of SB1070. I wasn’t surprised because every time I come home, I hear stories of ‘el Arpaio’, or I hear about the latest law that got passed banning this or ticketing you for that. I remember how Arizona was the last state to recognize a Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, I remember the countless attempts to undo affirmative action, ban bilingual education, copy laws like Proposition 187 from California.

We came to Arizona from the copper mines in Cananea. Recruiters came to Mexico trying to find people who would come work. We came in wagons, there was nothing here..nothing! They dropped people off from place to place. Our job was to clear the desert. And look at it now! – Antonia Franco

— wait! quick note… :)

I’m back in Arizona once again, we await the Supreme Court decision on the case between the state of Arizona and the federal government. I’m reposting two articles I wrote a few years ago in the days after the passage of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona. I was back home, in a moment of upheaval, outrage and determination to respond. -m

I remember a childhood of listening to the stories of my elders, sitting at a kitchen table with thick mugs filled with more milk than coffee. There was my Nana Tonia, who came in the early 1920’s with her family from Sonora, México. My Tata Emilio’s eyes would gleam as he spoke, describing the orchard trees along South Mountain and Baseline Road, the ranches, the farms all around. He loved to point out how much things used to cost in the early days, break down what it cost to feed his family and pay the rent and match that to the wages he made as a janitor, a musician and a groundskeeper.

Stories like theirs constitute the backbone of the history of the state of Arizona. Their labor helped build the foundation upon which the 5th largest city of the United States operates upon today. And I wonder, what would they think about what is happening in Arizona now, days after the passage of the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant law?

This, has been a long time coming. And it comes inspired from news long overdue.

Kicking off this blog has had a bumpy ride, living at the end of my to-do list for months on end. And this last week I felt like, well damn, if I don’t got anything to say about all that’s happening, then I may as well cross it off the list for good. So here I am. And here it goes. Because there is so much more to come.

At this point, the news is out there. Last Friday, President Obama made an announcement that DHS will grant deferred action to eligible young people for two years along with potential work authorization.

Reaction has been whirling from all sides. I’ve been listening for the analysis and next steps from folks who brought this victory forward. It seems fair to say the collective hope is for this development to provide at least temporary relief. How much celebration and how much caution is a subject of debate, but it also seems like most also agree that there is much work to do. At this moment, I think the most important thing allies can do is help spread the word of what this means (correct info, por favor!) to ensure the maximum amount of people who can benefit do. Second, its important to promote the youth/student organizations that organized and worked to make this happen. Victories should strengthen movement. And if the leading organizations don’t come out of this stronger, we’ve missed something. And lastly, we must be alert to ensure implementation. The devils in the details, folks. Sometimes, implementation of a victory is just as hard as winning the concession in the first place.

10 years in, and a whole lotta anxious. That was the scenario when I contemplated my future out loud with a longtime compañera, in a bar, of course. There came a point in the conversation where she leaned in as I spun myself in circles of questions, and looking real serious posed the question: So. What do you want to be in the movement, an architect or a carpenter?

My tendency at a crossroads such as this is to see where I came from. And when I look back on my path, I suppose it’s been a combination of circumstance, chance and choice. It’s woven into my story. Two weeks after September 11, 2001 I left my home in Guadalupe, AZ to be trained in community organizing. After years of what I would call ‘buffet activism’ as a student and general revoltosa I traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area hungry for more.

Six weeks turned into six years in the Bay Area. I learned about neoliberalism in food lines and homeless shelters, witnessed the cost of trade agreements like NAFTA from domestic workers who were separated from their children to be able to provide for them. And, I was introduced to a network, formal and informal of people trying to build a movement to change things up.

I had the privilege to work with people directly affected by the local and global, to study classic and modern theory and talk shop with like-minded folks about how the pieces connected, across racial lines, sector and place.

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About the Author

  • Marisa currently works as Campaign Coordinator for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.  She joined NDLON’s staff during the upsurge of movement in reaction to human rights crisis in her native state of Arizona.  She continues to support the emerging human rights movement in Arizona, along with local campaigns to end criminalization across the country.  Marisa comes out of multi-racial organizing across community and labor issues.  Previously she has worked for POWER, Domestic Workers United, Right to the City Alliance and helped form the National Domestic Workers Alliance.  She is a from Guadalupe, Arizona and studied at Arizona State University.  Read more of Marisa's writing on at and follow her on twitter at @marisa_franco.

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Organizing Upgrade 2012 / Built by Union Labor