A coalition of far-left advocacy groups is pressuring Democratic presidential candidates to support decriminalizing illegal border crossings and to cut off funding to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Progressive organizations leaked their plan to Politico on Tuesday in an effort to influence the Democrat Party's first presidential debates. The platform is being pushed by the Center for Popular Democracy Action alongside United We Dream, MoveOn, Indivisible, Women's March, Working Families, Sunrise Movement, and Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. The groups want the candidates to stop using the phrase "comprehensive immigration reform" and instead vow to defund and reform ICE and Customs and Border Protection, and to "end mandatory detention," Politico reports.
"We cannot go back to the same old framework and expect to battle Trump's racist agenda," Ana Maria Archila, the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, told Politico. "The last two years under Trump, immigrant communities have been the scapegoats and the punching bag."
Many of the organizations now targeting the Democratic presidential hopefuls have been active since President Donald Trump took office.
The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), Archila's group, is leading a massive $80 million anti-Trump network that spans across more than 30 states and partners with more than 60 progressive organizations. The CPD consists of old chapters of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which was stripped of its federal funding and forced to close following controversy in 2010.
The CPD has undertaken a number of successful boycott and pressure campaigns in recent years. One such effort resulted in the former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, stepping away from Trump's advisory council. The CPD also took aim at Nordstrom over its sales of Ivanka Trump products, which were ultimately pulled from the shelves. Nordstrom claimed the decision was made over declining sales.
Archila was also the individual who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator over accusations against Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanuagh. The encounter led the former senator to call for an FBI investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh was confirmed after the FBI said it could not corroborate the allegations.
The Sunrise Movement, another group attempting to push the 2020 Democratic candidates further to the left, was instrumental in crafting the "Green New Deal" alongside Justice Democrats, who helped propel Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y) into office. The group held rallies Tuesday outside of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters demanding a presidential debate on climate change.
Bend the Arc, a group that was created by Alex Soros, George Soros's son, is also involved in the new efforts. A spokesman for the group directed the Washington Free Beacon to a previous release demanding a more forceful liberal response to the Trump administration.
"There are daily reports of abuse, mistreatment, and even deaths of immigrants and children held in camps," the release said. "After years of Trump’s family separation doctrine, kids kept in cages, sleeping on cold concrete floors with aluminum foil as blankets, progressive voters are disgusted by Trump’s racism and now demand a new president to stop the pain and lead the nation in a new direction — and they’re ready to help get that president elected."
The release indicated that leading Democrats are willing to them hear them out. The coalition will be meeting directly with all 25 Democrat presidential candidates to sell them on the decriminalization platform. The groups will be "activating millions of their members to mobilize voters across the country" throughout the summer as they meet one-on-one with candidates.
The nonprofit arms of the CPD, United We Dream, Indivisible, MoveOn, and Bend the Arc combined to raise $67 million throughout 2017 while spending $36.7 million, according to the most recent tax forms available from the groups. Filings for the Sunrise Movement and Women's March from that year are not available. Working Families is a minor political party.
The seven other groups associated with the campaign did not respond to inquiries on decriminalizing illegal crossings and what they would hope to ultimately achieve at the border.