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Clinton Campaign Uses DACA Anniversary to Rally DREAMers

Tactic could have down-ballot turnout benefits

Beneficiaries of President Obama's deferred action program gathered outside the future Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., on Monday. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)
Beneficiaries of President Obama's deferred action program gathered outside the future Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., on Monday. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

The Hillary Clinton campaign’s coordinated effort to enlist undocumented immigrants to help get out the vote could prove a boon down the ballot as well.

The Democratic presidential hopeful’s political operation rolled out a new “My Dream, Your Vote” initiative Monday encouraging people who came to the United States as children without proper immigration status to help Hispanic voters get to the polls.

The campaign sought out undocumented immigrants who are at least temporarily not at risk for deportation because of an executive action by President Barack Obama, at venues ranging from Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., just opposite the Old Post Office that’s being converted to a new Trump hotel to a phone bank in Arizona.

One of Monday’s events was a news conference at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, which has been the site of repeat visits by Obama when he pushed for changes to immigration laws and policies.

“I’m working to elect Hillary Clinton because she is the only candidate who will fight to protect and expand DACA so that all DREAMers can have the same reality,” Victoria Ruiz said in Las Vegas. DREAMers, like Ruiz, are undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and could ultimately qualify for permanent residency or citizenship under legislation that supporters have repeatedly tried but failed to pass. 

[Meet the Least Familiar Headliner at the Democratic Convention]

The launch of the events across the country coincided with the four-year anniversary of Obama’s Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals policy — better known as DACA — which protects certain unauthorized immigrants from deportation and allows them to work if they came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday and before June 15, 2007.

“This issue is personal for me,” Nevada Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto said. “My grandfather immigrated to the United States from Chihuahua, Mexico.”

Cortez Masto, a Democrat, said that comprehensive immigration reform is needed, “but Donald Trump and Congressman Heck want to end DACA and tear families apart.”

Rep. Joe Heck is the Republican nominee seeking the Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Harry Reid.

[Heck, Cortez Masto to Face Off in Nevada Senate Race]

“Congressman Heck says people should support Trump for the good of the Republican Party,” Cortez Masto said. “I’m confident the voters will reject Donald Trump and Congressman Heck for the good of Nevada families.”

Cortez Masto was joined at the Del Sol event by a pair of Democratic candidates for the U.S. House, Jacky Rosen and Ruben Kihuen.

The Clinton campaign’s efforts could benefit them as well, particularly if opposition to Trump among Hispanic voters drives up turnout. The Republican nominee for president has spoken repeatedly about building a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

[Highest Ranking Latino in Congress, Xavier Becerra Comes Into His Own]

In Chicago, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California participated in a campaign round-table on the DACA program with City Alderman Danny Solis.

“I met with DREAMers in Chicago about DACA and also DAPA, who had compelling stories about how hard their families have worked. They wanted to know what they can do to address deportations and they’re anxious about how they can push back and also see the President’s executive actions move forward,” Becerra said.

The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, refers to another executive action introduced by the Obama administration which would have allowed unauthorized immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to stay in the country legally if they met certain residency requirements. The program has been blocked from implementation nationwide by a federal district court.

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.

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