Four years ago, President Barack Obama promised the Latino community that he would work to pass immigration reform in his first year as president—but that never happened.
Now, four years later, Latinos want him to deliver.
Just as news broke that Obama won his re-election bid after beating Republican challenger Mitt Romney, immigration advocates were quick to call on the president to make passing an immigration reform one of his top priorities in his second term.
“President Obama must fulfill his campaign promise and work with congressional leaders to create a common-sense immigration process that treats all people with dignity,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, stated early Wednesday morning.
Dreamers call for ‘a permanent and sensible immigration solution’
Many dreamers, who are benefiting from Obama’s decision to give undocumented youth a way to work and remain in the United States, also called on him to pass the DREAM Act, legislation that would pave a path to citizenship for undocumented youth via college or military service.
“Now it’s time to hold Congress and the president accountable to work across parties for a permanent and sensible immigration solution,” said Erika Andiola, a dreamer and a national advocate for the DREAM Act.
During the last 11 months, Andiola and several other dreamers traveled across the country to expose Romney’s “extreme position” on immigration and his threat to veto the DREAM Act. Their efforts were part of the “Veto Romney, not the DREAM Act” campaign.
“We demonstrated to the Republican Party that the DREAM Act and a humane treatment for our families are priorities for the Latino community,” she said. “The ‘self-deport’ rhetoric will no longer be tolerated.”
Democrats say they’ll work on an immigration reform ‘right away’
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who won his bid for re-election Tuesday night, agreed with Andiola. He said Republicans would need to become more open to working with Democrats on passing an immigration reform, especially now that Latinos are increasing their political power.
“At the end of the day, there will be an acknowledgment of the importance of the Latino vote in this election and Republicans will have to listen and make some progress on the issue,” he told VOXXI.
Grijalva also said Democrats are “going to begin the drum beat right away” on efforts to pass an immigration reform and the DREAM Act.
“We are going to be moving that agenda right away,” he told VOXXI. “I think our community will get behind that effort because we need that to be the first domestic priority we deal with. I know the economy and the budget are important but this has been lingering out there, people have exploited it politically against us and this is our opportunity to move that agenda forward.”