ya es hora is an historic non-partisan Latino civic participation campaign launched as the Latino community's action-oriented follow-up to the immigrant mobilizations of 2006. The campaign represents the largest and most comprehensive effort to incorporate Latinos as full participants in the American political process. Unlike past approaches which focused on one component of civic engagement, this multi-layered campaign takes a comprehensive approach that links naturalization to voter participation and Census enumeration under a single message: "it's time."
The ya es hora ¡CIUDADANIA! campaign was born of the pro-immigrant marches of 2006. To translate the mass momentum into action, the goal was simple - to inform, educate and motivate the millions of eligible legal permanent residents to apply for U.S. citizenship. Over 400 organizations nationwide contributed to ya es hora's success in surpassing its lofty goal of motivating over 1,000,000 legal permanent residents to apply for U.S. citizenship. Approximately 1.4 million applied by the end of Fiscal Year 2007
NALEO's 1-888-Ve-y-Vota toll-free civic participation information hotline assisted 38,320 callers with questions about naturalization, and thousands accessed information on the steps to citizenship through the www.yaeshora.info website.
The work of ya es hora ¡CIUDADANIA! continued through 2008, with several workshops organized throughout the year, in addition to ongoing support for one-on-one application assistance. The campaign continues on into 2009, seeking to encourage the millions of Legal Permanent Residents still eligible to get informed and apply for naturalization in advance of the 2012 Presidential Elections.
Historically, Latino voters face two primary barriers to full political participation: lack of meaningful engagement, and lack of access to the electoral process. The ya es hora ¡VE Y VOTA! campaign was the second phase of our comprehensive civic participation strategy, designed to ensure that the barriers of low engagement , access to information about the process did not impede Latino participation in the election.
The NALEO Educational Fund's 1-888-Ve-y-Vota hotline served as the official ya es hora campaign hotline, and was staffed by live bilingual operators year-round, all trained to assist callers with any voting questions or issues. From January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2008, over 35,745 calls were placed to the hotline with 8,237 calls placed on Election Day 2008 alone, when over 90 trained operators and 30 attorneys received calls from across the nation. The hotline also helped protect voter access to the ballot box, documenting and following-up on any reported problem or irregularity with the voting process. The NALEO Educational Fund also developed one of the nation's most comprehensive bilingual voter information websites, featuring essential and detailed state-specific election information, polling place locator, and easy-to use voter registration tool. From its launch through November 4, 2008, more than 50,000 visited the site.
Critical to full Latino civic integration is full enumeration of the Latino population, from local planning to federal funding to redistricting. To ensure a complete and accurate count of all Latinos, the next stage of the ya es hora campaign will focus on the 2010 Decennial Census, educating and informing the Latino community of its importance, and the need to complete a Census form on April 10, 2010. Launching in 2009, the campaign will supplement and complement U.S. Census Bureau outreach efforts.