Many have come to know Ben Monterroso as a key champion and leader for many immigrants’ rights campaigns, dating back to 1994 when he helped lead the fight against California Proposition 187, an extreme anti-immigrant ballot initiative that proposed stripping basic human and civil rights from immigrants. With that battle came the realization that instead of playing defense, the immigrant rights community needed to assert its rights by working to repair the broken immigration system. Since then, Ben has brought an impassioned commitment to social justice and immigration reform by growing Latinos’ engagement in the civic process and showing that the political empowerment of Latinos can force change for generations to come.
Through his decades-long work as a strategic and skillful organizer, Ben has been at the forefront of efforts to turn lawful permanent residents into citizens, and new citizens into voters to grow the Latino vote and level of civic engagement. By striving to build coalitions among community organizations, immigrant-sending countries, businesses and faith-based groups, as well as optimizing the power of Spanish-Language media, Ben has been instrumental in creating a movement for social justice that advances the lives of Latinos and immigrants in this country.
Under Ben’s leadership, in 2012, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund’s voter registration, education, and mobilization efforts placed the organization as a leading national Latino civic engagement organization. That resulted from Mi Familia Vota Education Fund significantly expanding its programs and field operations in six key states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. With the help of over 1,200 canvassers and volunteers, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund exceeded its goals by registering more than 83,000 Latino voters, knocking on more than 328,000 doors and calling more than 108,000 low-propensity Latino voters to encourage them to vote, and mailing close to 300,000 informational pieces to Latino voters. In Arizona, alone, the group registered more than 22,000 voters for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL).
Ben continues to build the leadership and infrastructure of the organization at the national stage, by recruiting and developing national and local leaders to make the organization the success it is today. He also leads the field and national coordinating efforts of the Alliance for Citizenship, a coalition of more than 200 organizations working for fair immigration laws and administrative policies.