The influence of immigrant youth leaders, also known as DREAMers, was felt in June with the announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and will be felt again on election day. DACA, announced by the Obama Administration on June 15, allows a specific group of undocumented youth to live without fear of deportation for 2 years, and to fully contribute to America. This policy came as a result of years of hard work by DREAMers, their allies and their families. For 2 years DREAMers led a grassroots campaign to stop the administration from deporting them and won relief. While this may seem like the only victory they have achieved, it is not. They have also won the hearts and minds of Latino voters. The victory of DACA is directly responsible for the increased enthusiasm by Latino voters.
Both Democrat and Republican talking heads have made deferred action and the protection of DREAMers the number one talking point when it comes issues that matter to Latino voters. Accomplishing this feat wasn't easy. Under President Obama's tenure, DREAMers saw an alarming increase in cases of DREAMers being detained and shuffled into deportation proceedings. As immigrant youth leaders, we came together and created campaigns to stop these deportations, while pointing out to the nation and the administration that the immigration policies they were enforcing were failing spectacularly.
Every day, we saw stories of undocumented youth and their families being detained and put into deportation proceedings and the Latino community took notice. Immigration is a key filter issue for Latino families. Jobs, health care and the economy are important but immigration is what will get you into our living room to discuss those issues. It didn't take long for Latino leaders to hold the Obama Administration's feet to the fire. There were just too many injustices happening and our community was not going to stand on the sidelines while families were being separated. The Latino vote was up for grabs and it wasn't very happy with President Obama.
When the announcement was made, we celebrated. It was as a step in the right direction but our work continues. Our mothers and fathers, tios and tias, are still being detained and deported. And while deferred action was one step in the right path, some states still refuse to grant those of us who have been approved for deferred action driver's licenses. Immigration -- particularly as it affects us young, law-abiding, hardworking, aspiring citizens -- resonates more and more with Americans, not just Latinos. We still need a permanent solution, and it remains our top priority.
Latino voters are critical in determining who will win the White House and control Congress. That is why DREAMErs have intensified their voter education and mobilizing efforts is states like Arizona, Colorado and Florida.
That work is already paying off -- in Arizona, where SB 1070 is law, 60 percent of Latinos are more motivated to vote this year than four years ago. In Colorado, 69 percent of Latinos were "very enthusiastic" about voting in two weeks. In Virginia, an astonishing 73 percent of Latinos expressed similar levels of enthusiasm about voting this year. And in Florida, possibly the most swing state this past decade, 53 percent of Latinos stated that deferred action made them "more enthusiastic" about voting for President Obama.
Regardless of the election results for president and congressional races, we will continue to push for permanent solutions that provide a path to citizenship for our families, ending enforcement polices that have broken up so many families, and focusing on action at the state level, so aspiring citizens can be granted licenses and benefit from in-state tuition at state universities.