WASHINGTON — Hispanics smuggled into the United States as children who grew up as Americans on Thursday celebrated Democrat Barack Obama’s re-election, and urged rival Republicans to focus on immigration reform.
“The result of this election clearly showed that the anti-immigrant agenda is the real loser and this is very clear for the Republicans,” said Cristina Jimenez with the United We Dream advocacy group.
Jimenez’s group represents supporters of the DREAM Act, a bill in Congress that would provide a path to citizenship to immigrants who came to the United States as children.
More than one million young people, overwhelmingly Hispanic, belong in this category.
Jimenez said in a phone conference that United We Dream is active in 23 states and openly worked to help register voters ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election.
‘Dreamers’ knocked on doors for the Obama campaign in key states including Nevada, Florida and Colorado, Jimenez said.
Surveys show that 71 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for Obama, while only 27 percent voted for Republican Mitt Romney.
In mid-June, Obama suspended the threat of deportation against hundreds of thousands of law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the country as minors, a move that no doubt helped the re-election effort.
“I think ‘deferred action’ definitely changed the game this year,” said group member Daniel Rodriguez.
During the call, Lorella Praeli, the group’s campaign director, also vowed to continue to hold the president accountable on immigration reform.
United We Dream officials did not say how many people worked on voter turnout efforts, but noted they had more than 5,000 volunteers across the country.
“We haven’t had any Republicans reach out to us, however,” Praeli said.
She added that the analysis was clear: “Many leaders in the Republican Party, strategists and advisers are saying that Republicans must pay attention” to Hispanic voters going forward.
Hispanics make up the most numerous and fastest growing racial minority in the United States.