United We Dream Action, one of the largest national immigrant rights groups, has endorsed both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders for president.
“We have come to the conclusion that our very first endorsement in a presidential election as UWDA will go to Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders. They are both progressive candidates who really rise above the other candidates when it comes to a commitment for a country where all people including immigrants can live without fear and thrive,” Cristina Jiménez, United We Dream Action’s cofounder and executive director, told BuzzFeed News.
This is the first time the group is endorsing presidential candidates, in an environment where the Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the future of DACA any day now, and the anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric of the Trump administration have continued to escalate.
“For us at United We Dream Action, this election is the fight of our lives. Over the last four years under the Trump administration, the deportation detention system has grown, and we’ve seen people dying in detention camps. Families have been separated. Many of our own leaders at United We Dream have been touched by detention and deportation, and that is the current reality,” Jiménez said.
The double endorsement comes after a process that included publishing its own immigration policy platform, member surveys, an analysis of candidates’ platforms, meetings with candidates themselves, and asking candidates to fill out questionnaires. The group reached out to Sanders, Warren, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Julián Castro — Biden and Buttigieg did not meet with the group, they said, and Castro ended his candidacy soon after the meeting.
Despite the Sanders campaign recently walking back their commitment to a temporary moratorium on all deportations, the group decided he and Warren were most in line with immigrant communities’ needs.
“This is another case in which a politician, in this case Sen. Bernie Sanders, made a promise and backtracked, as politicians do," Jiménez said, before pointing back to the Obama administration failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform and deporting record numbers of people.
“We know what it is like to hold people accountable,” Jiménez said. “When Obama was in office, we led a fierce movement, and pressured and campaigned for many years for him to stop the deportations of young people, and that’s how we were able to win DACA. What we know is that for the next Democrat in the White House, we will hold them accountable.”
Last week, Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir told BuzzFeed News’ Hamed Aleaziz during an Amnesty International forum on immigration that “a tiny number of people on a case by case basis that would be outside of the moratorium. The moratorium would affect 99% of the people living here peacefully and contributing to America's economy.”
Other major immigrant rights groups, Mijente, Make the Road Action, and the Center for Popular Democracy, have endorsed Sanders — they said they understood the moratorium to mean a temporary but complete stop to all deportations, but still believed Sanders was overall the most progressive candidate on immigration.
United We Dream Action endorsed 11 progressive candidates for House seats last August.