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WSJ: DREAMers Work Hard to Boost Latino Vote Turnout

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In the last few weeks, much attention has been paid to the importance of the Latino vote and its crucial effects on the upcoming election next week.  Also important are the people who are pushing the Latino vote to turn out—in many cases, DREAMers, who cannot vote but who are encouraging members of their community to vote.  They are dogged, they are persistent, and in states across the country, they are asking their friends, neighbors, and families to make their voices and their priorities heard.

As Colorlines pointed out last month, the extent to which DREAMers and other aspiring citizens are actively mobilizing the vote is unprecedented.  “Despite a deeply anti-immigrant climate,” Colorlines writes, “undocumented immigrants have participated in this year’s electoral process unlike ever before…although activists have rallied together in previous elections, 2012 marks the first time undocumented people are directly demanding answers from candidates.”

Today at the Wall Street Journal, Miriam Jordan writes about this turnout army and comments on how the efforts of the DREAMers are just “the latest demonstration of the increasingly organized and vocal group’s power.”  Here’s an excerpt:

In swing states like Florida, Ohio and Colorado, the young people—often referred to as Dreamers after the failed Dream Act legislation that would have offered them a path to citizenship—are running phone banks, going door to door and approaching students on college campuses to encourage voting. They also are active in California, a Democratic stronghold, and Texas, where Republicans have the edge.

The group is targeting Latinos, the fastest-growing electorate in the U.S., whose turnout at the polls is traditionally lower than that of blacks and whites. Polls show an overwhelming advantage for President Barack Obama among Latino voters, but the Dreamers efforts also could boost Democratic support in state and congressional races, supporters and opponents agree…

Astrid Silva, a Las Vegas college student brought illegally from Mexico when she was four years old, is typical of the activists. She has been volunteering four hours daily at a phone bank. “We don’t tell people who to vote for,” said Ms. Silva, co-founder of a local organization called Dream Big Vegas. “But we make it clear that immigration matters to our community.”

On college campuses in Florida and Ohio, Dreamers have been approaching students gathered in cafeterias and clubs to share their personal stories and ask young voters to support candidates who care about immigrant and gay rights. The majority say they plan to support Democratic candidates.

“We can’t vote but we can get people to vote who support our issues. It’s our way to participate in this democracy,” said Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez of Brazil, who is supervising the joint effort by United We Dream, a national undocumented youth network, and GetEQUAL, a gay-rights group, in both states.

In San Antonio, Maria Fernanda Cabello has knocked on about 10,000 doors in Latino neighborhoods where turnout has been low in the past. “We have to knock on all these doors again as the election approaches,” she said.