This Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, we’re thrilled to uplift and honor our partner Jose Patino from Aliento. Aliento is a youth-led organization that serves undocumented, DACA and mixed status families across Arizona. We checked-in with Jose this month about what Aliento has been up to and how folks can get involved in their work. Read our September Partner Highlight to learn about some of their recent accomplishments, including winning a proposition in Arizona that ensures in-state tuition for Dreamers, and who inspires Jose to keep the movement going.
What’s new with you? What are you working on these days?
I am now the VP of Education & External Affairs at Aliento. Last year, we won Prop 308: In-state tuition for Dreamers in Arizona. We are the only state with a voter-approved law in the country. At Aliento, I am working on increasing access to driver’s licenses and access to financial aid for undocumented students.
How did you first get involved with the #StudentVote?
I got involved with #StudentVote formally for the 2020 elections. However, I have been working on turning out youth voters since 2008. I was a 1st-year college student wanting to do my part. I was an undocumented youth, and I couldn’t vote. However, I wanted my voice to be heard. I have been working in one way or another to support the youth vote ever since.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is mentoring students. It motivates me to see youth find themselves and put what they have learned into practice.
The most challenging?
The hardest part of my job is understanding that change takes time. You will not see the fruits of your labor in your lifetime.
How do you support campuses and student voters?
From voting to direct action, we provide resources, professional training opportunities, and mentorship to students on college campuses.
What advice would you give someone interested in getting involved or supporting your work?
Reach out, get involved, put yourself out there. We have something important to say. There are multiple ways to get involved.
How do you and your organization center racial justice and equity?
We center racial justice & equity by centering impacted youth as the storytellers, and strategists of their own life. Decisions have been made to shape the lives of youth, yet their voices have never been heard in those conversations. To dismantle the oppressive systems designed by the powerful to extract from our racial minorities, we need to build a coalition on those who are “essential” to the continual existence of a society. The pandemic showed us who is essential to life and who is exploiting our people.
What’s been the most surprising thing about your work since you started?
The world has changed dramatically in the last seven years. Through the Trump years, oppressed and extractive policies awoke millions to the issues negatively impacting the community. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, illuminating the struggles and challenges the migrant community goes through. We are recovering from a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, economic exploitation, and structural inequities.
What are some of your personal inspirations?
It can be a person, an organization, an idea, a mantra, etc. My mother is my inspiration. She came to this country with little to no education, no money, not knowing the language, or understanding how the USA worked, so my siblings and I had an opportunity at a better life than she had in Mexico.
What are you doing when you’re not working?
I love to hike, take long walks with my dog Zoe, go on dates with Reyna, my fiance, and watch old anime.
Finish this sentence: In a perfect democracy…
In a perfect democracy, the country will be run by the people’s will, not by the ultra-wealthy. The country belongs to the people, not those who have the means to buy elections.
How can others support your work or get involved?
You can follow us on social media: @AlientoAZ on IG, Threads, & TikTok.