Prominent DREAMer Erika Andiola Answers Bernie’s Prayers
BY David Puente
There was no official meeting between Pope Francis and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders at the Vatican on Friday, only a quick hello with the Pontiff for a few minutes on Saturday. But Sanders’ prayers for a staunch supporter in the Latino community were answered when Erika Andiola joined his campaign. She is the young immigrant activist, now helping to mobilize the community as press secretary for Latino outreach at Bernie’s campaign. Immigration policy and deportation reform is at the core of her outreach efforts.
Andiola’s personal involvement in deportation came in 2013 she was undocumented and living in Arizona with her mother and younger brother. That’s when her mother and brother were taken in a nighttime raid. Though well on their way on a bus headed toward the border, Andiola managed to stop her family’s deportation. She released this powerful YouTube video at the time making her case:
“It was definitely an eye-opener for me,” she says now. “I realized that millions of families across the country are vulnerable. I think one great part of working for Bernie is his willingness to bring in Latinos affected by bad immigration policy. He asks us, ‘how do we make a good platform’? And that’s why we have the best platform for immigration right now”.
While the polls show Hillary Clinton is still the favorite in Tuesday’s New York primary, she leads by double digits, Andiola’s job is key for Sanders to even have a fighting chance. “We know that when there is a high turnout, there is a bigger chance we win,” Andiola told us at a voter mobilization event she organized in Queens. “We are mobilizing. We have thousands of volunteers across the state. We have a great shot at New York. And we are very competitive with Latinos.” Andiola quickly points to a recent poll by Public Religion Research Institute that shows her boss even with Hillary Clinton amongst Latino voters nationally. Latinos are represented equally among each candidate’s voting coalition (12% vs. 12%, respectively).
As Andiola took questions from potential voters at the Queens event, she stressed that she wants to set straight Bernie’s record on immigration reform. A record which Hillary attacked earlier in the week at the Dem’s Brooklyn debate. “The 2007 bill that Bernie didn’t support,” Andiola says, “which he was attacked for, was a poisoned immigration bill. It had an amendment that allowed migrant workers to be exploited. Bernie didn’t support it because he wants to make sure that we are all paid fair wages. He didn’t support that bill, and was backed by LULAC and other migrant rights organizations who didn’t support it either”.
“A much better bill made it to Congress in 2013,” she continues, “and he voted for it. Our plan is to make sure that when he’s elected, we push for immigration reform, and stop deportations immediately. We want New Yorkers to know that and everyone in the country to know the truth.”
Meanwhile this weekend, Bernie Sanders will be back in New York City. He left the campaign trail in the New York state at a crucial time and got little political return from his whirlwind trip to the Vatican. But Andiola pushes forward. “The more the people get to know him, the more they like him,” she says packing up at the Queens event. “Bernie’s candidacy is showing Latinos they aren’t taken for granted. Democrats cant take Latinos for granted. Now we have to get out the Latino vote, so we will be banging on doors,” she smiles and passes the “Unidos Con Bernie” signs on her way to the next campaign stop.
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