Campaign for a Moral, Balanced Immigration Overhaul (CAMBIO), Strategic Review

by Anita Khashu; Kathleen M. Sullivan

Nov 1, 2014

In March 2014, Campaign for an Accountable, Moral, and Balanced Immigration Reform (CAMBIO) commissioned us to conduct an external review of the CAMBIO campaign. This report summarizes findings based on data gathered during an in-person focus group conducted with members of the CAMBIO Steering Committee in May 2014; a review of approximately 20 CAMBIO corporate documents and 36 internal meeting minutes; and 41 semi-structured telephone interviews conducted principally in June and July 2014.
  • Many Steering Committee informants highlighted the support they received from the experienced and highly skilled CAMBIO staff as a key value that CAMBIO brought to members’ work, principally by providing technical expertise in key campaign areas, legislative guidance, contacts that members would find it difficult to attain on their own, and logistical and convening support.
  • Many Steering Committee informants (as well as Strategic Partners and allies) appreciated the assistance they received from government relations/lobbying consultants in obtaining Capitol Hill intelligence to inform members’ strategy development, targeting persuadable legislators (particularly Republicans), gaining access to legislative offices with which CAMBIO members did not have contacts, and tailoring messages and lobbying materials appropriate to legislators’ needs and concerns.
  • CAMBIO Steering Committee members emphasized as particularly valuable CAMBIO’s financial and logistical assistance with, and advice on, setting up lobby days and meetings on Capitol Hill, and meetings with the Obama Administration.
  • Polling, message development, press briefings, and other communications services, to create and disseminate pro-enforcement-reform lobbying and communications content to allies, policymakers, and the press, were also highly valued by CAMBIO members.
  • Bringing together CAMBIO members to learn about one another’s issues and to multiply one another’s access and influence through information-sharing, and undertaking joint lobbying and other collective policy-reform efforts. Having diversity of expertise within the CAMBIO membership permitted Steering Committee members to nuance their messages about enforcement-reform issues on which they themselves didn’t have substantive expertise.
  • Creating and facilitating a space for CAMBIO members to share information and discuss joint strategy with other enforcement-reform advocates, as well as serving as a streamlined point of contact for legislative staff working on enforcement reform. Supporting affected community members to come to Washington to directly inform policymakers and their staffs about how excessive immigration enforcement harms immigrants and their families.
  • Recruiting and supporting additional influential voices (such as law enforcement) to come to Washington to inform policymakers and their staffs about the ways in which excessive immigration enforcement regimes negatively impact local communities.
  • Developing and providing local communities and DC-based advocates with information and resources on enforcement reform for use in enforcement-reform advocacy, community education, and organizing.
  • Identifying non-traditional allies on Capitol Hill (particularly but not limited to Republicans) and working to persuade them to resist excessive, high-cost, immigration enforcement policies.
  • Almost all external informants believed there were no unintended negative consequences of forming CAMBIO on the broader campaign for immigration reform.
  • An unanticipated negative consequence of the formulation of CAMBIO on the enforcement-reform field (as opposed to the immigrants’ rights movement) was the persistent view on the part of some CAMBIO critics that the formation and resourcing of a centralized CAMBIO campaign, with associated staffing and consultant services, diverted desperately needed funding from CAMBIO member organizations. The perceived funding competition aggravated inter-group tensions over the objectives of, and strategies for, collective action.
  • CAMBIO suffered from a lack of alignment between member organizations about the main goals, strategic positioning, and scope of work of the campaign (i.e., securing enforcement reforms vs. enacting CIR; appealing to moderates or staking out more progressive positions; limited to legislation, or also including administrative advocacy). Struggles based on these alignment problems consumed much time and energy of CAMBIO members and staff, and most likely limited the impact of the campaign.
  • A minority of CAMBIO members criticized the availability and quality of resources they received from CAMBIO’s strategic and communications consultants. This appears to be related to the strategic targeting or alignment issues discussed above, combined with a related resource-limitation issue. It caused certain members to feel under-served and to value their participation in CAMBIO less.
  • Enforcement-reform organizations did not form a campaign until the immigration-reform legislative process was well underway in the Senate in the winter of 2013, which limited CAMBIO’s early influence and momentum.
  • The CAMBIO campaign had insufficient resources to support campaign operations and the Steering Committee members’ participation in the campaign.
  • CAMBIO’s need to have multiple meetings before key decisions were made frustrated and over-taxed members, sowed some distrust in the integrity of the deliberative process, and harmed CAMBIO’s ability to respond quickly in an urgent campaign environment.
  • CAMBIO’s field activities faced significant challenges that CAMBIO could not meet robustly. It appears this was because CAMBIO members with strong field components incorporated their work with CAMBIO inconsistently, field grantees of Four Freedoms Fund focused their efforts on other priorities, and CAMBIO lacked the substantial staffing necessary to access the field independently."
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