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While for most Americans who pay attention to politics were focused on the Iowa caucuses for the past few months, immigration activists, including DREAMers, have been actively engaged on the front lines in the state for the past several years.
The results have been two-pronged: 1) Defining candidates on the immigration issue; and 2) building lasting political power in the state.
Interactive Timeline: How Dreamers and Immigration Advocates Dominated the Iowa Caucus
On the issue of political power, Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasaquillo reported that turnout by Latino voters at the Iowa caucuses exceeded the goal of 10,000 participants, which was set by League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) – a target much higher than previous years:
LULAC, drawing from responses campaign field staff received from phone calls, door-knocking, and “Commit to Caucus” returns from mailers, believes the number is closer to 13,000.
“We did our part, Latinos played our part,” said LULAC Iowa political director Christian Ucles. “We knew when LULAC put together this program in Iowa, that they were ready to come out with a show of force for any candidate that supports the Latino community.”
On the issue of defining candidates, supporters of immigration learned the power of confronting candidates back in early 2012 when, in response to a question from an immigration activist, Mitt Romney vowed to veto the DREAM Act, a position that haunted him throughout his campaign. Starting in 2014, activists regularly interacted publicly with candidates on both sides. For Democrats, this led to stronger support for immigration. But on the GOP side, candidates followed the path laid out by Romney of catering to the extreme. In fact, as I noted in a post at Univision (cross-posted in English here), this is one key reason why the Iowa caucuses still matter:
Iowa still matters because we set the stage for this year’s general election – and what was said in Iowa by GOP candidates as they kowtowed to Steve King impacts voters in key swing states like Florida, Nevada and Colorado, to name a few. Thanks to Iowans, Latinos and other voters who care about immigration know where each candidate stands on this cycle’s most widely discussed issue.