(Pictured from left to right: Sandra, Blanca Gamez, Senator Dean Heller and Astrid Silver)
While Americans wait for the House to vote on SB 744, the immigration reform bill that could potentially lead 11 million people to citizenship, three members (pictured above) of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) took action. They met with Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller in Washington D.C. on June 25th to hand deliver him a binder full of personal stories from immigrant Nevadans (PLAN Facebook page).
PLAN and the Significance of Coalitional Organizations
Founded in 1994, PLAN is a coalitional association of over 30 Nevada organizations working together on prominent issues including environmental justice and immigration reform. As a coalitional association, PLAN creates an alliance among many potentially competing groups to “create a cohesive force for social and environmental justice in Nevada” (PLAN History).
Coalition organizations have increased since the 1970’s because they recognize the significance of intersectionality and the connections made among multiple disenfranchised groups. PLAN and other coalition organizations enable people to utilize intersectionality because the organizations strive to link the different parts of peoples’ identities. For example, as a multi-racial individual and firm believer in civic engagement, I can use PLAN as a resource not only to access the NAACP-Reno Sparks and Progress Now Nevada, but also combine the two identities to address voter suppression in the Black community (PLAN Members). Organizations addressing the same general issues (i.e. gender, healthcare, etc.) can come together to create a larger impact on the systemic level.
The Most Valuable Asset to the Immigration Movement
Because immigration reform is such a pressing topic in today’s society, intersectionality within coalition-based organizations offers the most valuable asset to the immigration movement: allies. The movement encourages people to make connections between their own identities and with others to build empathy and become allies. Even though I am a native-born citizen of the United States, I can relate with immigrants because we both lack many of the rights granted to heterosexual citizens in the United States. Allies are a prominent part of every movement, especially the immigration movement, because their support and empathy for immigrants dispute the misconceptions of anti-immigrant individuals.
PLAN’s successes within immigration reform include helping to defeat all but one anti-immigrant bill introduced in the Legislature and holding the first ever “Latino Day at the Legislature” in 2010 (PLAN Accomplishments). PLAN uses resources such as political contacts, donor opportunities, and public status to successfully fight for the rights of Nevada immigrants.
In the case of SB 744, PLAN representatives used the organization’s resources to compile a binder full of personal stories from immigrant Nevadans. The 2-inch binder given to Republican Senator Dean Heller is a symbol of the coalition-based organizations because it presented an assortment of stories and identities to a person of power in order to promote an important cause. Building coalitions such as PLAN will ensure that change occurs across the social, political, and economic board.
Whether it is attending rallies held by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, donating to the Unity Coalition in Miami, or even sharing a link on Facebook to PLAN, there are exponential amounts of ways to use coalition organizations to be an ally to others.