Anti-Trump Group Awarded $250,000 DHS Grant for 'Pathways to Citizenship'

 Make the Road New York's 'sister' org is spearheading an $80 million anti-Trump network

Getty Images
March 13, 2018

A progressive Latino advocacy group that has been directly involved with protests against Donald Trump and Republicans and whose "sister" organization leads an $80 million anti-Trump network was awarded a $250,000 grant late last year from the Department of Homeland Security as part of an initiative to help individuals register for citizenship, records show.

Make the Road New York, a nonprofit focused on Latino immigrant communities with around 20,000 members, was awarded the $250,000 project grant as part of the Pathways to Citizenship Initiative from the Department of Homeland Security. The grant carries a performance period of 1 year and 11 months and expires on Sep. 30, 2019.

"The goal of the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program is to expand the availability of high quality citizenship preparation services for lawful permanent residents in communities across the nation," the grant's description reads. "Additional activities that support this goal include making citizenship instruction and naturalization application services accessible to low-income and other underserved lawful permanent resident populations; developing, identifying, and sharing promising practices in citizenship preparation; supporting innovative and creative solutions to barriers faced by those seeking naturalization; increasing the use of and access to technology in citizenship preparation programs; working with local libraries, which serve as a vital resource for immigrant communities; and incorporating strategies to foster welcoming communities as part of the citizenship and civic integration process."

MRNY boasts of its "cutting-edge public policy advocacy work to catalyze high impact social change" and was behind the widely covered JFK airport protests following Trump's initial travel ban. The protests—described at the time as "spontaneous" by the media—were later found to have been planned since one day after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections.

Following the group's protests at JFK airport, MRNY participated in the #DeleteUber campaign that called for people to boycott the ride-sharing company after it allowed drivers to pick up passengers at the airport during the protests. Travis Kalanick, Uber's founder, left Trump's advisory committee following the activist campaign.

MRNY was also later involved in the #GrabYourWallet campaign that targeted retailers who sold Trump family products. Nordstrom ultimately dropped Ivanka Trump products from its stores.

The progressive advocacy organization is closely tied to another liberal group that helms an $80 million anti-Trump network.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), a New York-based liberal nonprofit that consists of old chapters of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform NOW (ACORN), is referred to as the "sister" organization of MRNY in the biography of Ana Maria Archila, the co-executive director CPD. Archilla joined CPD after acting as the co-executive director of MRNY, where she had been since the group was founded in 1997.

Andrew Friedman, the founder of MRNY, is also now a co-executive director at the Center for Popular Democracy. Friedman spent years building up MRNY before moving over to CPD. Javier Valdes, the co-executive director of MRNY, sits on the board of directors of the Center for Popular Democracy.

The two groups have also passed hundreds of thousands of dollars to each other, tax forms from both groups show, and have "partnered" on the "Corporate Backers of Hate" mass lobbying campaign that involved directly pressuring higher-ups at corporations they claimed could directly benefit from Trump policies.

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Disney, IMB, Uber, BlackRock, and Blackstone were targeted during the campaign, which was called "unprecedented" by corporate responsibility experts.

The Center for Popular Democracy Action, the 501(c)4 sister organization to the CPD, leads the massive $80 million anti-Trump network that was announced last year and is said to span across 32 states with 48 local partners to focus on mobilizing new voters and combating voter identification laws while also getting involved in gerrymandering efforts and automatic voter registration in regards to the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Rep. Keith Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, publicly backed the effort led by the Center for Popular Democracy Action.

"This national network, led by working class people of color and immigrants, will supply the power and the fight we need to resist the Trump administration's all-out assault on American values," Ellison said last year. "I look forward to standing with CPD Action's leaders in the streets and in Congress to win real progressive change."

CPD currently shows partnerships with more than 50 other left-wing activist organizations across the United States, according to their website.

CPD is also an approved funding organization of the Democracy Alliance, the left's largest dark money donor network that was co-founded by billionaire George Soros.

CPD did not return a request for comment on their partnership with MRNY by press time. MRNY and DHS's headquarters and Citizenship and Immigration Services division also did not respond to inquiries on the grant.