DREAMers celebrate Obama victory, push for further reform

Obama’s reelection was particularly important to young undocumented immigrants–also known as DREAMers–who could have lost their chance at two years of deferred action under Romney. They celebrated Obama’s victory on Tuesday and Wednesday, hoping that his resounding win among Latino voters will spur the Republican Party to embrace immigration reform.

DREAMers hope that Obama will do the same thing for undocumented immigrants that he did with deferred action, granting deportation waivers if they can prove strong ties and a clean criminal record.

“We have a president who has been promising this for a really long time,” said Erika Andiola, a 25-year-old undocumented immigrant who leads Dreamer advocacy group DRM Capitol. “Whether we can get Congress to [vote] on something, we’re going to try for that and to push them to the middle. But we always have the president who can definitely use his powers to do more in terms of getting our families protected.”

DREAMers said they expect Republicans to also see the results as something of a referendum on their immigration policies. Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented journalist who founded Define American to push for reform, said he expects immigration reform next year.

“This is in many ways a tipping point, and I think it’s an opportunity for the Republican Party,” Vargas said. “I really think it’s time for the Republican Party to have a real, honest look at itself and at the demographic map, which is not lying.”

Arturo Carmona, executive director Latino advocacy group Presente Action, said Obama needs to take action on immigration, regardless of whether Republicans participate, unless he wants to let down supporters of reform for a second time.

“Latinos have learned from the last experience, and the honeymoon period is over now,” Carmona said. “The election is over, there shouldn’t be any honeymoon this time around. We need to get to work.”

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