As Sanders Sweeps 3 States, Meet the Young Immigrant Activist Helping Him Mobilize Latinos

March 28, 2016


Erika Andiola

press secretary for Latino outreach for the Bernie Sanders campaign. She is a prominent immigrant rights activist.

On Saturday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won landslide victories in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, chipping away at front-runner Hillary Clinton’s lead in the race to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for the White House. Sanders won at least 71 percent of the vote in each state, including 82 percent in Alaska. Sanders will still need to pull off big upsets in Wisconsin, New York and California to catch up with Clinton in terms of pledged delegates. Clinton also maintains a huge lead among superdelegates, members of the Democratic Party establishment who could change their vote at any point. While Saturday may have been the biggest day of the Sanders campaign, the corporate media largely downplayed his victories. We speak with Erika Andiola, press secretary for Latino outreach for the Bernie Sanders campaign and a prominent immigrant rights activist.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn back right now to the race for the White House. Again, on Saturday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won overwhelming victories in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii, chipping away at front-runner Hillary Clinton’s lead in the race to win the Democratic Party nomination for the White House. Sanders won 73 percent of the vote in Washington, 71 percent in Hawaii, 82 percent in Alaska—all three caucuses. Clinton now has 1,243 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 975, so they’re about three—less than 300 delegates apart. In addition, Clinton’s secured support from an overwhelming number of unelected superdelegates made up from the party establishment, though they could change their allegiance at any point.

Joining us now is Erika Andiola, press secretary for Latino outreach for the Bernie Sanders campaign. She’s a prominent immigrant rights activist from Arizona, though she’s based here in New York through the election.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: We had a clip of you on our show in Colorado after Bernie Sanders’ win. Can you talk about the significance of this landslide this weekend? The corporate media hardly paid attention.


AMY GOODMAN: But it was a sweep, a three-state sweep.


AMY GOODMAN: And they were, all three, caucuses. Why does Bernie Sanders do so well in these caucus contests?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Of course. Well, see, Bernie, of course, we see in the media, when we had Arizona, when we had the previous elections, that we saw that, you know, there was already this narrative that Bernie was done—right?—that the campaign was over. Many in D.C. were asking him to drop out. Bernie has said, "We’re going to continue until June. We want to—we’re still going to fight for the nomination." And Washington was one of those key states that we wanted to see how we’re going to do there. And we thought we were going to do very well, and we absolutely did, not only in Washington, but we also did in Alaska and Hawaii, and, I think, gives us amazing momentum not only for our campaign, but for our supporters to continue and to push forward until the end.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, in Washington state, party officials estimated more than 200,000—

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Turnout was amazing.

AMY GOODMAN: —people participated, which was close to the record set in 2008.

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Absolutely. The turnout was absolutely amazing. We were getting reports of, you know, people filling up the caucuses. And one of the things that is really, really amazing about our own supporters is that, you know, Bernie’s supporters are very, very pumped up. You know, they’re very excited about going out to caucus. And it’s a lot of young people, it’s a lot of new voters. And I think, for us, you know, that really gives us an advantage at caucuses, which—it helps. Right? It’s not only people going to cast their ballot; it’s people going in there to rally, to go in one side of your candidate and to really make a difference on how, you know, we can turn out that specific precinct.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the significance of what happened in your state of Arizona?


AMY GOODMAN: You had people waiting on line for, say, five hours. Many people ended up leaving, older people, and it turning out—the massive cutback on polling places in—well, in the largest city, Phoenix, is in Maricopa County, 200 to—down to 60. They said they were saving money?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Mm-hmm. It was very unfortunate, I think, for us, I mean, not only as a campaign. I think—we don’t know what would have happened if it was different, right? But I think, for us, and Bernie said it, you know, it really is a form of voter suppression. It is a form of really, you know, disenfranchising so many voters that are so excited to go out. It was a high—a very, very high turnout, and we ended up seeing 2,000-people lines still around midnight.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go for a moment to Bernie Sanders talking about Arizona.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: In the United States of America, democracy is the foundation of our way of life. People should not have to wait five hours to vote. And what happened yesterday in Arizona is a disgrace. I hope that every state in this country learns from that and learns how to put together a proper election, where people can come in and vote in a timely manner and then go back to work.

AMY GOODMAN: Erika Andiola, your response to what he said?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: No, it is definitely unfortunate, I think, for us. I mean, I’m from Arizona. I really—I really care about the fact that our people are excited about voting. And we do have a general election coming up. And we’re hoping, and we’re—you know, we’re putting out there this message that "Don’t be discouraged. I know you waited for five hours. But this is about fighting back and making sure that we do have voters who are there, who are able to do this faster, not five hours."

AMY GOODMAN: You’re a well-known immigrant rights activist, not just in Arizona, but all over the country. You were undocumented. Your house—you and your mom—was raided. Your mother and your brother were both taken by ICE?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: And you had to fight to have them released?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: That’s correct.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about that happening in 2013 and how you ended up working for Bernie Sanders.

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Yeah, I mean, it was definitely an eye-opener for me. It was—I’ve been organizing immigrant rights, you know, immigrant rights community for a while now, for a couple of years. But I think that year, it was definitely—you know, it came home, right? ICE came to my own home. And I really realized that, you know, it is definitely—I have DACA now, but my family is still vulnerable, and millions of families across the country are still vulnerable. And I think, for us, is—you know, how can we make sure that we keep families together? And I think one of the amazing parts about working for Bernie was how open he was to see two DREAMers—that’s me and another, César Vargas, who’s from here, from New York—who he was open to bring us and asked us, "How do we make a good platform? How do we make sure that our immigration platform is a correct one to keep families together?" And we have the best platform right now to make sure that we do that.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, we spoke to Dolores Huerta, the civil rights activist, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. She has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, criticized Bernie Sanders’ record on immigration reform.

DOLORES HUERTA: In terms of the Latino community, we are completely in support of Hillary, simply because Bernie just hasn’t been there for the Latino community. You know, he had a really good opportunity in 2007, when Senator Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Senator Durbin from Illinois—when they proposed a good immigration reform bill. And we had all of the momentum behind us at that time, because we had had all of these marches all over the country for immigration reform. And Bernie, unfortunately, came out against that bill.

AMY GOODMAN: Dolores Huerta. Can you respond to this, Erika Andiola?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Absolutely. It’s unfortunate that they don’t put this—the entire story out there. And the fact is that this 2007 bill was one of the bills that, you know, yes, a lot of people worked very hard for, but at the end of the day they did put an amendment there that literally allowed for workers, migrant workers, to be able to be exploited. And one of the things that Bernie has fought for, for so many years, is making sure that workers, whether migrant, whether undocumented or documented, are treated the way they’re supposed to be treated, in the right, you know, human—as humans, we have the right to make sure that we are paid the fair wages, that we’re not under slavery conditions. And he said, "If this happens, I’m not going to vote for something like that." He was backed up by LULAC, by, you know, many organizations who do support migrant rights, workers.

And for us, that’s exactly a reason why, because in 2013 he came back again, the bill was much better, he voted for it. And not only that, he has called many, many times to make sure that families continue to be together. I guess that our plan is making sure that when he gets elected, not only do we pass—continue to push for immigration reform, but that he stops deportations right away, that he stops the raids. And he has asked President Obama over and over again, "Please stop the raids." You know, don’t do what basically was done in my own home, which is just not right, and we need to stop that.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re here in New York. You have flown in. The next major races are Wisconsin, California and New York, here, on April 19th. What are your plans? These are absolutely key for Bernie Sanders’ success.

ERIKA ANDIOLA: You know, for us, it’s continuing to excite the community to go out and vote. And here in New York and also in Wisconsin—Wisconsin is going to be a very, very key state for us. And one of the things that we do know is that it is an open primary. It is a state where we—you know, people can actually register on the spot, so they can go and register to vote there. And for us, turnout is very important. We know that when there is a high turnout, there is a big possibility of us winning the state. And so we are making sure that we’re mobilizing. We have thousands of volunteers across the state. We also have thousands of volunteers across the country who are calling in to different states that are key for us. And that has definitely been, you know, what has pushed Bernie Sanders forward until June. And, you know, we’re going to—we’re not going to stop. It doesn’t matter what pundits, it doesn’t matter what, you know, the establishment tell us. We’re going to continue until we win.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you say when people say, well, he won in white states, like, for example, they say Washington state?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Right. Well, look, in Washington, we were—we went into Yakima, is one of the—about 45 percent to 50 percent of the community there is Latino—very diverse county. Bernie had a rally there. We had 7,000 people turn out. We ended up winning the county by 75 percent or 76 percent. It was amazing turnout. It was also great support that we had. And it’s a very diverse community. And so, you know, it’s unfortunate that there is this narrative now out there. You know, first Alaska was the most diverse state; now it’s not the most diverse state. You know, the reality is that Latinos—

AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there.


AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you for being with us, Erika Andiola.

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