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Elizabeth Warren Strongly Supports DREAM Act; Scott Brown Calls It "Back Door Amnesty"

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Last week, America’s Voice unveiled a spotlight on six key Senate races of importance to Latino and immigrant voters. One of the key races we highlighted is the Massachusetts contest between incumbent Senator Scott Brown (R) and his challenger Elizabeth Warren (D).

Last night, Brown and Warren participated in their second debate. And, the immigration issue was front and center, thanks to a question from a student:

The two candidates disagreed on immigration during a segment of the debate when a senior at the Lowell campus of the University of Massachusetts, Vladimir Saldana, asked the candidates where they stood on the topic of a pending bill that would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who complete high school and obtain a higher education degree or join the military.

Brown, who has never shied away from his adamant opposition of the bill, renewed his statement at the debate. “I am in favor of full legal immigration. I don’t support the DREAM Act. It’s a form of back door amnesty,” he said.

Warren, on the other hand, said she supports the idea, calling it the “right”
thing to do.

“I would strongly support the DREAM Act. I believe in it. We need comprehensive immigration reform.”

The difference couldn’t be more clear. And, according to one pundit, it was not a great moment for Brown:

Scott Brown appeared to take the hardest hit when he told Saldana, a Dominican native, that he thought the DREAM Act was a “back door amnesty.”

That response triggered a loud boo that washed over the Tsongas Center.

As we noted in the Senate spotlight, “Scott Brown portrays himself as a moderate. But when it comes to the issue of immigration, he’s a hard-liner.” His answers last night reaffirmed that. Brown’s use of the term “back door amnesty” is right out of the hard-core anti-immigrant playbook.

Polls show a tight race, with Warren leading 47.9% – 43.9% in the TPM Poll-tracker.  In this close race, Latino voters can play a decisive role. According to Latino Vote Matters, in Massachusetts, Latinos comprise 5.7% of the state electorate—a 98% increase between 2000 and 2010.