Immigrant rights group Make the Road Action on Wednesday announced its first-ever presidential endorsement for Sen. Bernie Sanders' Democratic bid, saying the Vermont lawmaker's 2020 run "reminds us every day that progressive values and issue priorities are both the right thing to do and the right way to beat Trump."
"We can and we must fight for a country where members of our communities are free to stay, free to move, and free to thrive," said Make the Road co-executive director Javier H. Valdés in a statement. "And we are proud to fight alongside Bernie Sanders to realize that vision."
Make the Road Action is one of the nation's largest immigrant rights groups, with tens of thousands of members across the country and a particularly strong presence in Nevada, one of the early states in 2020 Democratic primary voting. The organization has members as well in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
In a statement, Sanders thanked the group for its support and pledged to continue to work toward positive change in the country's immigration system and beyond.
"I'm proud to have their support," said Sanders, "and I look forward to continuing to work with them to create a humane immigration system, to stand up for tenants' and workers' rights as we tackle corporate greed, and to stop the mass criminalization of Black and Brown people across this country."
According to Politico, Sanders won the endorsement of the group after an internal process:
Make the Road Action's members and leadership ultimately picked Sanders, citing his immigration plan, which would place a moratorium on deportations and break up the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies — two proposals that Warren has not backed outright. The group also credited Sanders for his proposals to protect tenants with "just cause" eviction requirements and a national rent control standard.
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Make the Road members said that they were backing Sanders for a number of reasons, including immigration policies, the senator's plans to tackle inequality, his support for teachers, and more.
"Bernie Sanders has shown us for decades that he will stand up for workers and tenants and against corporate greed," said Make the Road Action New York member David Vergara. "With companies like Amazon doing major damage to the rights and well-being of workers and communities, it's more important than ever that we have someone in the White House who will stand up for our rights and needs."
Make the Road Action in New Jersey member Christian Chirino emphasized Sanders' support for immigrant communities.
"As immigrant and working-class communities of color like mine face continued attacks, we need a bold and powerful candidate to stop deportations, dismantle ICE and CBP, and transform our immigration system," said Chirino. "As a first-time voter, and a member of an immigrant family, I know Bernie Sanders is the champion our community needs and is helping to lead the movement that will help us defeat Trump in 2020."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a prominent Sanders supporter, said in a statement that the group is "a powerhouse organizing for respect and dignity for all in my district and in dozens of other districts across the five states where its members live."
"MRA members fight every day for justice for immigrants, for Black and Brown youth, for tenants, for workers, and for our trans and gender non-conforming siblings," said Ocasio-Cortez. "Their spirit and tenacity will lend enormous strength to the diverse coalition to elect Bernie Sanders to be our next president."