Civil Rights Groups Organize Attorneys to Protect Immigrant, Latino Voters in Southwest Detroit

Lack of federal protection under Voting Rights Act a serious concern

Immigrants rights groups have grown increasingly concerned with the tenor of this year’s political debate. Many fear that immigrant and Latino voters could be intimidated at the polls on Election Day by aggressive vote challenging. To ensure that every citizen is able to exercise their right to vote, Michigan United has organized 20 attorneys and law students to monitor for civil rights abuses at polling places on Election Day. In the event of problems, Michigan United will be in close contact with the City Clerk and the Department of Justice.

“Every citizen needs to be able to vote without intimidation or fear,” said attorney Lawrence Garcia of the Detroit-based Garcia Law Group , “This is especially important for immigrant, Latino, and minority communities which have historically faced barriers at the ballot box. I’m proud that the legal community is coming together to stand up for civil rights on Election Day.”

Civil rights groups are especially concerned this year, since this will be the first presidential election since 1965 without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. Congress failed to renew many aspects of the VRA in 2013, including key provisions that allowed the Department of Justice to deploy poll monitors in communities with a history of civil rights violations, including Detroit. DOJ monitors were present at several polling places in Southwest Detroit during the 2012 election.

Those who would like to volunteer with the effort can still call the Michigan United office at 877.507.7774.

Kalamazoo County Commission votes in support of ‘Drivers Licenses for All’ bills

Pending legislation in Lansing would restore driving privileges for thousands of undocumented immigrants living in Michigan

The Kalamazoo County Commission passed a resolution Tuesday night in support of restoring driving privileges for undocumented immigrants living in Michigan. House Bills 5940 and 5941, dubbed the ‘Drivers Licenses for All’ bills, were introduced in September by Michigan State Representatives Harvey Santana (D), Dave Pagel (R), and Stephanie Chang (D).

img_20161018_18554532130 members of Michigan United attended the Commission meeting to support the resolution. One of them, Kim Hilton, a chemistry professor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, weighed in before the commission’s vote. “I’m not sure why it is that just by me being born here and someone else not being born here, I somehow get treated as more of a human being,” said Hilton. “It’s like having a group of hardworking students in a classroom, and making one group move to the back where they can’t really hear what you’re saying. They’re just as smart, just as eager to learn, just as capable, but now you’ve made it much, much harder for them to do what all the students are working to do.”

Nelly Fuentes, an organizer with Michigan United told the commission “I invite you to recognize these values in yourself and vote in favor of the resolution that will give immigrants the opportunity to drive to their places of worship, drive their children to school, drive to their places of employment, and drive to local businesses making Kalamazoo’s economy stronger.”

Michigan used to allow undocumented residents to have driver’s licenses until 2008 when Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reversed the policy. There are currently over 600 thousand immigrants in the state of Michigan, roughly 120 thousand of them are undocumented, many of which work in Michigan’s $100 billion dollar a year agriculture industry.

Despite the bipartisan origin of the ‘Drivers Licenses for All’ bills, the commission voted 6-5 in a straight party line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. After the vote, County Commissioner Kevin Wordelman expressed his disappointment. “Immigration is not a partisan issue, and making it a partisan issue only leads to disaster,” said Wordelman. ”The sooner we can decouple this issue from partisanship, the better. I hope we can start to have constructive conversations. But what I would like to see in coming days and years is Democrats and Republicans coming together on this issue.”

“In this political climate, we need more than ever to remember what it means to love one another,” said Lizbeth Fuentes, a member of Michigan United.  “If you are a person of Christian faith, I invite you to ask yourself What Would Jesus Do if it was in his hands to help his foreign neighbor?”

Michigan United Kicks off Series of Events for New Detroit ID Program

Mayor’s office works with community groups to promote “Detroit-ID”

Michigan United and a host of other community groups launched a series of community events called “ID’s For All,” to promote “The D-ID” card that the city will issue in mid-November. On Friday, dozens of Detroit residents attended the event with many questions about the soon to be available municipal IDs. They wanted to know who qualifies, as well as how, when and where to apply. Most of these residents have difficulties getting a state ID and were very enthusiastic about the prospect of applying for a city identification.

One of those residents was a mother who has lived in the city for 16 years and had a terrible experience at a local clinic due to the lack of a state ID. “This week I went to a local clinic and they refused to give me treatment because my Michigan ID is expired, even though I was ready to pay for the full cost of care.” said Bertha Aviles “It has been impossible to renew my ID and there are thousands of people in the city who have difficulty getting a state ID. We are all humans and deserve to be treated when we are sick. This should not happen to anyone and I am hoping that the new Detroit IDs will help prevent this situation from ever happening again.”

Although it was designed specifically for residents who have difficulty getting a state ID (such as youth, the elderly, returning citizens, immigrants, and members of the  LGBTQ and homeless communities), all Detroit residents, 14 years old and older, will be eligible to apply.

ACCESS, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIA Vote), the International Institute and Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED) are also hosting information sessions on the new municipal ID program. If you have questions about the new ID or would like to find out how to apply, please come to one of the following events near you.

“IDs for All” Event Schedule for 2016

Community Org. Date Time Address
International Institute Oct. 4 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM 111 E. Kirby St. Detroit, MI, 48202
Michigan United Oct. 5 7:00:00 PM – 8:00 PM 4405 Wesson St. Detroit, MI 48210
LASED Oct. 12 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM 7150 Vernor Hwy. Detroit, MI 48209
ACCESS Oct. 13 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM 7800 W. Outer Dr. Detroit, MI, 48235
ACCESS Oct. 14 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM 2651 Saulino Ct. Dearborn, MI 48120
International Institute Oct. 18 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM 111 E. Kirby St. Detroit, MI, 48202
LASED Oct. 26 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM 7150 Vernor Hwy. Detroit, MI 48209
International Institute Nov. 1 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM 111 E. Kirby St. Detroit, MI, 48202
LASED Nov. 5 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM 7150 Vernor Hwy. Detroit, MI 48209
ACCESS Nov. 11 10:00 AM – 2:00 pm 8625 Joseph Campau Ave. Hamtramck, MI
ACCESS Nov. 14 10:00 am – 2:00 pm 7800 W. Outer Dr. Detroit, MI, 48235
ACCESS Nov. 15 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM 2651 Saulino Ct. Dearborn, MI 48120
International Institute Nov.15 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM 111 E. Kirby St. Detroit, MI, 48202
LASED Nov. 16 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM 7150 Vernor Hwy. Detroit, MI 48209
ACCESS Dec. 9 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM 8625 Joseph Campau Ave. Hamtramck, MI


Michigan United Launches Campaign to Register New Americans/New Voters

Local non-profit goes door-to-door, hit the pavement, signs up new voters

As part of National Voter Registration day, Michigan United canvassed door-to-door Tuesday in Southwest Detroit. Members of their civic engagement fellowship were looking for people who weren’t yet registered to vote in the predominantly Hispanic community.

Later that afternoon, Michigan United board member, Saydi Sarr led a group of volunteers on a trip to a high traffic location along Grand River Ave. looking for people who don’t typically vote.

Meanwhile, in Mt. Pleasant, MI, home of Central Michigan University, a team signed up college students, many of them voting for the first time in their lives.

img_2288-jpgAt the end of the day, dozens of new voters were registered to kick off the campaign to grow our electorate before the October 11 deadline. Michigan United is committed to elevating the voices of new Americans, people of color and others who are often disengaged from the electoral process.

Michigan must act now or leave federal funding on the table again

State risks over $20 Million for child care assistance if state match isn’t met

UPDATE: Click here to tell Lansing  to act NOW!

Michigan policy makers have only until the end of this month to draw down $20.5 million in federal funds or it will be returned to federal coffers and distributed to other states, leaving Michigan children and families without affordable child care assistance. The untapped dollars were the topic of a meeting of more than 40 representatives from statewide and national organizations last Friday in Lansing, where they discussed how to create better child care policies in Michigan that would increase access to quality, affordable care.

This is not the first year that Michigan has failed to meet its state funding obligations. A new report by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), released at the meeting, shows that in 2014 Michigan did not fully meet its state match requirement resulting in a return of $9.3 million in federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds. Moreover, while Michigan continues to underfund the program, a large number of children and families that could benefit from the program don’t get any help.

According to CLASP’s report, fewer than one in five children eligible for child care assistance under Michigan’s income eligibility requirements get any help. Latino, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native children are even less likely to receive child care assistance.

This year, Michigan is again poised to return millions that could support child care for working families. Legislators must appropriate $7.5 million in state funds in a supplemental budget bill before the end of September in order to draw down all available federal funds.

Read the CLASP report

“I am alarmed that Michigan lawmakers are dragging their feet to commit the funds in the state budget that will guarantee that Michigan families can benefit from the $20.5 million in matching federal funds,” says Amber York, a mother raising kids in Detroit and an organizer with Michigan United. “Why won’t Michigan lawmakers show their commitment to improving outcomes for Michigan’s neediest children?”

Michigan has drastically cut funding to the child care assistance program over the last ten years. This is coupled with a very low income eligibility threshold, and many administrative obstacles that make it difficult for families to access assistance. Based on numbers reported by the National Women’s Law Center, Michigan has the most stringent income eligibility requirements for child care assistance in the nation relative to the poverty level, and second strictest in relation to state median income. A family of three must make $23,800 or less annually to qualify for child care assistance.

“Taking steps to invest in child care and help families get assistance would give families more economic stability, and give children a better start. This is an important time to be having this conversation among community leaders, parents, providers, and others who care about the wellbeing of children and families,” says CLASP Senior Policy Analyst, Christine Johnson-Staub. “Michigan should be doing all it can to maximize the federal dollars coming to the state to help low-income children receive quality child care services.”

“This is a crisis for thousands of Michigan families who qualify for child care assistance but can’t get it.  The state’s decision to cut eligibility and leave much-needed federal dollars on the table is unconscionable,” says Jessica Juarez, Deputy Director of Policy for People’s Action, a national network of grassroots organizations. “Parents, providers and advocates are standing up and saying enough is enough.”

Click here to tell Lansing  to act NOW!

Job Posting: Grand Rapids Movement Politics Phone Bank Manager

The Movement Politics Phone Bank Manager will be responsible for leading our movement politics phone bank.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Calling targeted Spanish Speaking voters in MI, having brief conversations with them, and providing them with simple voting information such as where and when to vote.
  • Identifying voters who are concerned about social or economic justice issues and giving them the opportunity to get involved with community organizing action in Michigan.
  • Making Hundreds of phone calls per night to target voters.
  • Accurately recording information in a computer database after completing each call.

The program provides part time opportunity for 8 people, reach out to traditionally underserved populations of voters and encourage them to engage in the democratic process in November.

The manager will be responsible for:

  • Managing the phone bank hours and operation
  • Managing daily outreach efforts
  • Managing phone bank Data entry process;
  • Coordinating with senior staff to ensure that phone bank efforts are meeting funder requirements  

The manager must:

  • Have their own reliable car.  American-made cars are strongly encouraged.
  • Have their own cell phone and computer.
  • Be comfortable working with a culturally, religiously, and economically diverse group of partners, members, and staff.
  • Be comfortable working with the public and talking to strangers.
  • Be prepared for long and sometimes unusual hours.

Spanish or Arabic fluency is not required but is extremely helpful

The coordinator will be based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Applicants should have some basic familiarity with social justice issues, field work, or leadership development. Applicants should be prepared for a fast-paced work environment with a high-level of autonomy.  

The coordinator should be comfortable with modern office software and learning new technologies.  Michigan United uses the Voter Activation Network (VAN), Microsoft and Google productivity software, Facebook, and Twitter.

Women, people of color, and LGBTQ persons are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please send resume and cover letter to: and

Subject:  Movement Politics Phone Bank Manager

You can also contact Scott Holiday at 877-507-7774 ext. 717


We’re launching a new voter contact strategy to engage white voters about race. This August program will compliment our voter engagement strategies in communities of color. 


This year, the level of racist rhetoric in the election has put race and racism on many voters’ minds.  Moderate white voters are being wooed by a dangerous narrative that places the blame for social, economic, and political problems on people of color.  With structural racism intentionally hidden from white people, many simply do not see or understand its continued power and therefore embrace the idea that people of color need to “get over” race.

Additionally, white people generally avoid talking about race, and many moderate white voters have strong negative emotional reactions to talking about race.  When fellow white folks engage them one-to-one, however, we have seen white moderates open up about their experiences and beliefs regarding race and racism.


It is past time to develop effective tactics to hold productive conversations, white voter to white voter, about what structural racism is and how to identify it and its effects.

We are calling on all Metro Detroit’s white activists, leaders, organizers, and progressives to join this project to begin organizing Detroit’s suburbs in support of racial justice and to identify ‘what works’ when talking with white voters about race.

Extensive support for canvassers will be provided through thorough training and ample debriefs to process tense or painful conversations.


We will have deep conversations at the doors of moderate white voters in the Downriver area.  We create space for the contact to share formative memories that shaped their beliefs on race and racism, and share our own story of a time when we did not believe racism was an important issue and the awakening moment when we began to see structural racism. The conversations are non-judgmental and move folks towards our worldview through the power of stories.

Please register here to participate. Contact:

Paid phone bank position Available in Grand Rapids

Help turn out voters who care about immigration in Michigan!

Michigan United is hiring for multiple phone bank positions for hard working individuals to help contact and turn out voters for the 2016 general election. This is an effort to reach out to underrepresented and historically disenfranchised Spanish speaking voters in Michigan. Specific Responsibilities include:

  • Calling targeted Spanish Speaking voters in MI, having brief conversations with them, and providing them with simple voting information such as where and when to vote.
  • Identifying voters who are concerned about social or economic justice issues and giving them the opportunity to get involved through community organizing action in Michigan.
  • Accurately recording information in a computer database after completing each call.

Logistics and Requirements

These are part time temporary positions. Caller will start working as early as August 29 and there last day working will be November 10.

  • This position is a part time, 20 hour per week position.
  • Hours will fall between 12pm and 9pm, 5 days per week.
  • The phone bank will be located in Grand Rapids. Attendance is required at the phone bank. Calling from home is not an option.
  • Bilingual English/Spanish speaker
  • Excellent communication skills and comfort speaking with strangers
  • Interest in social and economic justice and other public interest issues
  • A proven work ethic and comfort with technology
  • Strong interpersonal skills and an outgoing personality Strongly preferred
  • Your own working laptop with WIFI capability
  • Experience with phone banks, door to door work, or public speaking and outreach


$10 an hour with pay scheduled to increase to $15 dollars an hour by the end of the phone bank period.

Application Instructions

Please email a resume and cover letter detailing your interest and relevant qualifications for this position to and Please put Movement Politics Phone Bank in the subject line.

Job posting: Movement Politics Fellowship Manager

Deadline to Apply- Wednesday, August 4th 

Michigan United is a statewide coalition of civil rights, labor, faith, business, and social service organizations working together for racial and economic justice through community organizing. We are currently focused on campaigns to:

● Promote just, fair, comprehensive immigration reform
● Dismantle mass incarceration
● Create a system of universal childhood and elder care
● End predatory lending
● Create affordable, dignified housing opportunities for all
● Reverse climate change and transition to a just, green economy

Position Description:

Movement Politics fellowships are full-time paid positions.
The Movement Politics Fellowship is a 3.5 month long project. It is an organizing and leadership development program for emerging community leaders in Metro-Detroit and Kalamazoo. Possible expansion is planned in Grand Rapids and Flint.

Under the mentorship and supervision of Michigan United staff, Fellows will be tasked with working as a team to conduct extensive outreach into the community to register, educate and mobilize voters for the coming 2016 elections. Fellows will also identify potential supporters for Michigan United’s key campaigns.
The primary method Fellows will use to reach voters is door-to-door and/or phone canvassing.

Fellows will participate in an ongoing training program to learn how to motivate others toward action, to learn the history of and challenges facing the social justice movement, and to develop a systems-based analysis of the power structures at the local, state, and federal level.

The Movement Politics Fellowship is a recruitment and training program for rising organizers who are passionate leaders of all social justice movements; especially economic equity, immigrant rights, workers rights. Fellowship graduates will be connected with other professional development opportunities, job opportunities, academic support, and join a growing alumni network.
Requirements and Expectations:
Fellows must:
● Be effective working with a culturally, religiously, and economically diverse group of partners, members, and staff
● Be responsible, timely, and committed to professionalism
● Be an effective communicator who is comfortable working with the public, talking to strangers, and asking people to take action
● Be proficient in Microsoft Office programs and be motivated to learn database programs; the Voter Activation Network (VAN) and Salsa Labs
● Canvassers will work approximately 8 hour shifts. Shifts take places in the afternoons, evenings, and on the weekends
● Be able to stand and walk for extended periods of time
● Be motivated to make change
● Language Proficiency: Some positions will require Spanish fluency.

Compensation and Directions to Apply:

Fellows will receive $10 an hour with the expectation of a stepped increase to $15 an hour by the completion of the Fellowship, and monthly cell phone and gas allowances, as applicable. It is possible to award monthly rate as a scholarship for current college students.
Applicants should have some basic familiarity with social justice issues and a passion for social justice work. Applicants should have basic understanding of field work and enthusiasm for leadership development. Applicants should be prepared for a fast-paced work environment that requires a high-level of autonomy.

Applicants should be comfortable with modern office software and learning new technologies. Michigan United uses Voter Activation Network (VAN), Microsoft and Google productivity software, Facebook, Twitter, and Mobile Commons (We will train Fellows on these programs as necessary.)

Women, people of color, and LGBTQ persons are strongly encouraged to apply.

Current term for Fellows is August 12th – November 10th.
Please send resume, cover letter, and 2-3 references to and

Labor and community groups to march along Jefferson demanding hiring reform

Action will kick off ‘Fair Chances for All’ campaign in Detroit

Members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) will take a break from their national convention to march in solidarity with Michigan United to begin their ‘Fair Chances for All’ (FC4A) campaign aimed at helping people with criminal records find gainful employment. Detroit passed a ‘Ban the Box’ ordinance in 2010. FC4A would extend that rule to include private employers who receive tax breaks from the city.

The statewide community organization recently won a similar effort in Kalamazoo earlier this year and just this week, President Obama announced an executive order doing the same thing at the federal level. The momentum is growing and pressure is building on city council to prevent gentrification in Detroit amid rapid growth and investment.

March and rally supporting ‘Fair Chances for All’ campaign

Rashida Tlaib, Sugar Law Center
Rev. Louis Forsythe, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church
Kelli Williams, Communication Workers of America – Next Gen
Ronald Simpson- Bey, Just Leadership USA/Leading with Conviction
Deacon Charles Thomps on, President of Belmont Community Council
Nicholas Buckingham, Nation Outside
Kim Buddin-Crawford, Michigan ACLU

11:30AM Wednesday July 20th, 2016

March begins in front of the Renaissance Centre
March ends at rally in front of Spirit of Detroit statue