History (Español)

The Central Coast Citizenship Project was started by the Salinas Teamsters Union Local 890 in
1994 after Proposition 187 was passed in California. The Citizenship Project originally aimed to
help union members and their families become active participants in the union and public life
more generally. Over the next several years the Project broadened and deepened its work
though a participatory research project. In response to regressive new federal immigration
and welfare laws in August 1996, and recognizing that there were no other resources for
immigrant rights in the communities where we worked, the Project’s board decided to
change our focus from “union members and their families” to whole communities, with
greatest emphasis placed on the elderly and disabled and very poor families most affected
by those laws.  In a series of campaigns for immigrant and worker rights, we tied immigration
and naturalization assistance to organization-building and leadership development in the
defense of the rights of people in all citizenship statuses.

Since 1995, the Citizenship Project has operated out of a storefront headquarters in Salinas
California. Over these years, the Project has developed a network of grassroots immigrant
self-help organizations including not only organized and unorganized workers but also an
ex-bracero organization, an immigrant youth community service and leadership development
program, an immigrant women rights’ group, an Escuela de Libertad or Freedom School

The Project helped win some challenging campaigns, including the Basic strike of 1999-2001,
the immigrant youths’ campaign for higher education rights, and the SEIU Santa Cruz county
workers strike of 2002. May 2006 community call for immigration reform
In the process, activists at the Project developed ways to integrate
immigrant assistance and labor-community organizing, and other methods for “organizing