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Latino voters group wants GOP candidates to embrace Dream Act

A group of Latino voters is trying to keep immigration at the forefront of the presidential race in Arizona and elsewhere.

DRM Capitol Group, a national lobbying group representing undocumented youth, working together with the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, today delivered 8,000 signatures on petitions to the Arizona Republican headquarters. The petition urged the Republican presidential candidates to stop opposing the Dream Act, which would give a path to residency to children brought to the United States illegally.

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The group is particularly targeting former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who has said he would veto the Dream Act. In last week’s debate in Arizona, Romney also referred to a controversial Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration as a “model.”

“We’ve been trying to hold him accountable for his words, using all that support we have in the Latino community to show him if he wants to get ahead and be elected president of the US, he’s going to have to support the Dream Act and talk face to face with the Latino community,” said Erika Andiola, an organizer for DRM and the Arizona coalition.

The national group worked with undocumented youth in the early primary states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida, and has tried to find young people to confront candidates on the campaign trail. Andiola said the group is currently organizing an event in Massachusetts before the state’s March 6 primary, though details are still being worked out.

Latino voters already vote Democratic by large margins, and President Obama has been actively courting Latino voters. But the Republican candidates cannot ignore Latinos, given the large Latino communities in crucial states like Florida.

Shira Schoenberg can be reached at sschoenberg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shiraschoenberg.
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