Immigrant Activist, Organizer Ana María Archila Running for Lt Gov of New York

Mar 8, 2022
3:50 PM

Ana María Archila, the Colombia-born immigrant activist and organizer running for lieutenant governor of New York in 2022 (Courtesy of Ana María for New York)

“I am running because I cannot sit and watch the politics of ‘business as usual,'” Ana María Archila told the crowd at a campaign event on February 28 at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan.

Best known for her elevator confrontation with then-Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) after he announced his support for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the Colombia-born Queens activist and organizer is running for lieutenant governor of New York in 2022.

Archila was joined by her running mate, Jumaane Williams, both of whom have been endorsed by the Working Families Party (WFP).

While the governor and the lieutenant governor of New York are chosen by a single joint vote in the general election, candidates run separate primary campaigns. Two candidates can chose to combine their primary campaigns for greater effect, however, which is often the case and is what Williams and Archila have opted to do.

Williams, a former New York City Council member from Brooklyn who ran as WFP-backed actress Cynthia Nixon’s running mate in 2018, has been New York City Public Advocate since March 2019, when Leticia James resigned the post to become attorney general of New York.

Archila “has spent her entire career fighting the uphill battle to support and uplift everyday people,” said Williams, “and she has won.”

“I’m thrilled to be running alongside my friend Jumaane Williams, one of New York’s most effective leaders, who has delivered policies that have changed New Yorkers’ lives for the better,” Archila said. “Jumaane is an inspiration to me and to millions across New York, and I count myself lucky to be on his team.”

“It is a real honor to have the support of the WFP,” she added, “which fights every day for the government New Yorkers deserve.”

Archila is a co-executive director of the progressive advocacy group, Center for Popular Democracy, and co-founded Make the Road New York, where she is board co-chair.

In an email to Latino Rebels, the Archila campaign lists the six key planks of the candidate’s platform: funding for excluded workers, affordable housing and tenant protections, universal childcare, universal healthcare, taking “bold” action to address the climate crisis, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

“New York is the place that welcomed me as a young immigrant and allowed me to feel at home in a new country,” Archila said at the launch event. “New York is the place where I found the safety to love who I love, to be queer and proud. New York is the place where my children were born, where they first looked at the sky. New York is the place where I learned about the incredible power that is unleashed when workers organize, when young people band together to fight for their dreams, when people build community and power, with love at the center.

“But New York should also be a place where everyone, no matter who you are or where you’re from, can live with dignity. And right now, our state is falling short of that promise.”

Archila immigrated to the United States when she was 17, earned a bachelor’s degree, and went to work at the Latin American Integration Center (LAIC), a nonprofit community group in Queens. Founded in 1992 by her aunt, Sara María Archila, who was then the group’s director but had been a social justice lawyer in Colombia, LAIC worked to empower the Latino communities and protect immigrant rights in New York.

“It was only when I found the immigrant rights movement and when I started organizing with other young immigrants like myself that I felt like I both was seen —was kind of a full human— and had community,” Archila told WABC-TV in New York in March 2021.

When her aunt died of cancer in 2003, Archila stepped into the leadership role and the group tripled in size. And when LAIC merged with Make the Road by Walking, a group doing similar work in Brooklyn, Archila became a co-director of the newly formed Make the Road New York. Since then the group has become the largest progressive immigrant-led grassroots organization in the state of New York, with branches in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.

In 2014, Archila became a co-executive director at the Center for Popular Democracy, which describes itself as having a “pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda.” Among its various efforts, including the elimination of wage theft and ensuring a just disaster recovery in Puerto Rico, the group is a major advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants.

“I have dedicated the last 20 years to building community organizations that allow the poor, Black, Brown, and immigrant communities to exercise power, to be respected participants in our democracy,” Archila said in February. “My work has been animated by the certainty that a new, more just nation, a new more just New York, is struggling to be born, and that her arrival becomes more possible every time immigrant youth tell their stories and articulate their dreams; every time Black women lead us to victory; every time low-wage workers win dignity at work; every time someone joins a march for the first time; and every time working-class families win better schools, housing and healthcare.”

Archila and her running mate both have their work cut for them. At the New York State Democratic Convention on February 17, the party designated incumbents Gov. Kathy Hochul, who replaced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo last August following his resignation amidst allegations of sexual misconduct, and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin as its candidates in 2022. Neither Williams nor Archila secured 25 percent of the vote at the convention to force a primary on June 28, which means each will need to register the required 15,000 signatures to do so.

“I’m ready to work tirelessly with my friend Jumaane Williams and the Working Families Party to help build a New York for the many, not the few,” Archila told the crowd in Foley Square last month. “Let’s get to work!”


Hector Luis Alamo is the Senior Editor at Latino Rebels and hosts the Latin[ish] podcast. Twitter: @HectorLuisAlamo