WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton’s campaign is launching a new effort to tap into the political power of young, undocumented immigrants, hoping to capitalize on Donald Trump’s promises to make deporting them a top priority of his presidency.
The 730,000 young people brought to the U.S. as children without legal status are prohibited from voting. Known as Dreamers, they’ve proven themselves to be a powerful organizing force in American politics, mounting a high-profile public campaign that pressured President Barack Obama to grant many of them and their parents reprieves from deportation though two executive orders.
Clinton’s national voter registration program, called “Mi Sueño, Tu Voto/My Dream, Your Vote,” is being launched on the four-year anniversary of the 2012 order that temporarily shielded from deportation some young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children and allowed them to work legally.
Organizers will remind voters that a Trump presidency would end that program, according to the campaign, which is already at risk after a June Supreme Court effectively killed Obama’s efforts to give legal status to some of the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
The program is part of an aggressive effort by Clinton’s campaign to woo the record 27.3 million Latinos eligible to vote in 2016. Polling shows Trump doing worse with Latino voters than any GOP presidential candidate since 1996. Much of the new effort will focus on battleground states including Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Florida, where Latinos and other immigrants make up an important part of the voting base.
Though Obama’s campaign had no formal organization program for Dreamers, door-knocking by those young immigrants, who have lived and attended school in the U.S., helped mobilize many Latino voters who could vote.
Clinton believes she can harness their power in a more formal way, particularly given her opponent. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has sparked outrage and fear within the Latino community.
He’s promised to revoke Obama’s executive orders within the first 100 days of his presidency, calling them the “most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a president.”
Clinton has made revamping the country’s immigration system a key plank of her presidential campaign. She has said she will introduce legislation during her first 100 days in office, vowed to restore and expand Obama’s programs, close private sector detention centers and to “take a very hard look at the deportation policies” now in force.
Last month, she called on Latino voters to help stop what she called GOP rival Donald Trump’s efforts to “fan the flames of racial division.”
“Donald Trump is running the most divisive campaign our lifetime. His message is that you should be afraid,” she told a gathering of Latino activists In Washington. “We’ve got to come back twice as strong and twice as clear. We have got to say with one voice that Latinos are vital part of the American community.”