Today, the first of nearly 1.7 million DREAMers can begin applying for deferred action under a program that was announced by President Obama earlier this year in June. (See the Washington Post article here.)
The political impact of this is clear. Over the next month, hundreds of thousands of DREAMers will be seen on TV, lining up to submit their paperwork and talking about how their lives will change. For Spanish language media, this will be top news.
Big events are also happening around the country. Last night, DREAMers were standing in queue over night in Chicago to receive help filling out their applications. For more background on these events, visit the United We DREAM website.
Though today is HUGE, Romney won't even talk about the new program. In January, he vowed to veto the DREAM Act and later, advocated "self deportation." But today? Nada.
Romney also knows that Latino voters could tip the balance in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia. And just today, Politico ran the latest numbers in an article on how Paul Ryan, who voted NO on DREAM and voted YES on the infamous Sensenbrenner bill (which sparked the massive marches of 2006), doesn't help with Hispanics:
Obama’s lead over Romney among Hispanic voters in national polling hovers around and even above the 40 percent mark. Last month, a Latino Decisions survey showed Obama touching 70 percent of the vote and leading by 48 points. An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll conducted in late July found Obama taking 67 percent of Latinos to Romney’s 23 percent. The POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll published Monday placed that lead at 62 percent to 26 percent.
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos framed the Republican dilemma in a tweet after the Ryan announcement: “How can [Paul Ryan] attract the Hispanic vote? If Republicans don’t get a third of the Latino vote they won’t get the White House back.”
Romney is just about at the point of no return with Latino vote. Yesterday, America's Voice challenged Romney to state his position on what's happening today:
With the DREAMer “Deferred Action” process set to begin tomorrow at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Mitt Romney still refuses to answer a simple question: on his first day as President, would he keep or revoke this new policy?
After taking hardline anti-immigrant activists as advisors, and hardline immigration positions during the primary, Romney has stuck to the hard right on immigration for the general election—despite the fact that this is hurting him significantly with Latino voters, who are the key to winning a number of battleground states. Romney pledged to veto the DREAM Act and labeled it a “handout,” called Arizona a “model” for the nation when it comes to immigration laws, and advocated the Kris Kobach-Lamar Smith plan of “self-deportation” as an alternative to citizenship for certain immigrants without papers.
We also asked GOP Senate candidates in Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Virginia whether they support or oppose the Right to DREAM? We posed a simple question to Congressman Jeff Flake, Connie Mack, Senator Scott Brown, Heather Wilson, Ted Cruz and George Allen:
If elected, would you call on Mitt Romney to keep or cancel President Obama’s DREAMer documentation program?
It would be a smart political move for Romney and the GOP Senate candidates to support the DREAMers, but the anti-immigrant nativists still control their party. We're not expecting to hear an answer, and Latino voters in all of the key states will know who stood with DREAMers and who didn't.