September 5, 2012
First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday praised the "critical role" of the Latino community in helping achieve her husband's vision for the country and she promised to fight for approval of the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legalization for qualified undocumented young people.
"So we don't have a single minute to waste," she said in a meeting with the Hispanic Caucus at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, where President Barack Obama will be formally nominated to seek a second term.
She called on Hispanic delegates to keep doing "that hard work on the ground" to encourage all possible voters to go to the polls on Nov. 6.
The Hispanic vote represented about 9 percent of the national total in the 2008 election and it is expected that it could amount to 11 percent this year.
About 800 of the 6,000 delegates at the Democratic Convention are Hispanics.
The first lady urged all Hispanics to take part in the democratic process and said that she is "so proud" of the enthusiasm that Democratic supporters are displaying in this campaign.
"My husband has been working hard to build a ladder to the middle class for all Americans," she said, describing Barack Obama as "an extraordinary president."
She promised that a second Obama administration would continue fighting for approval of the DREAM Act.
In addition, the said that this election is going to be more hard-fought than the contest in 2008, and she asked Americans who live in traditionally Democratic states to go to vote as if they lived in toss-up states like Florida, Ohio or Virginia.
Mrs. Obama, whose popularity rating is above that of her husband, wrapped up her remarks by saying "Si se puede" (in effect, "Yes, we can") in Spanish and she kissed and hugged a number of people attending the caucus.
Support for the president among the Latino community "is very strong. They know that he's been working a lot and every day," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who was among those attending the caucus.
"President Obama's (personal) story puts him in a position where he can understand the Latino community," he noted.
In his judgment, the future of more than 50 million Latinos "will be determined" during Obama's next term, if he wins reelection.
Rep. Xavier Becerra, who was also present at the event, said that Obama "is not going to wait for the Republicans to do something" to approve comprehensive immigration reform if he wins a second term.
The U.S. Latino community is important "not only because we're growing," but also because "the values we have and learned are the values of this country," Becerra said.
If he wins the election, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney "is going to do everything possible to eliminate all the benefits that we people of advanced age have," warned Blanca Paniagua, a convention delegate from Puerto Rico.
"We're more enthusiastic now, we're going to mobilize ourselves" for Obama, she said.