Latino lawmaker says the Dream Act order gives Obama something to point to

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Gustavo Rivera. (Photo via gustavoforstatesenate.org.)
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State Senator Gustavo Rivera thinks today's decision by the Obama administration to alter its deporation policy is a big deal, however the politics turn out.

He called the decision by the White House, which has deported undocumented immigrants in record numbers, an "incredibly positive step," and said the president was "demonstrating that he can take the lead as an executive."

Which is not to say that he doesn't think the politics matter.

Rivera, who worked on Obama's campaign in Florida in 2008, predicted that the new policy will strengthen his advantage over Romney, particularly with Hispanic voters.

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"I've always thought that it was easy to make the case that we need to re-elect the president, compared to how horrendous the choices have been on the Republican side," he said. "Romney has demonstrated to be completely disconnected from the experience of most working-class Americans and certainly Latinos." 

Obama's decision represents something concrete to show Latino voters in swing states like Florida, Rivera said.

"Any time that we can point to policy and say this is the type of policy that the president has already implemented and this is the type of policy that he's going to continue to implement, that always makes our case stronger," he said. "So certainly we can point to this and say this is the type of policy we're talking about. The fact is we need the president to be there for another four years because we need to get immigration reform done at the national level. And without President Obama at the helm, we will not get comprehensive immigration reform."

Rivera said he hoped to take the momentum from today's decision to pass the New York State Dream Act, which, like its federal counterpart, has stalled in the legislature in the face of Republican opposition. The New York version has also failed to attract support from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who says he supports the federal version.