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Last Push for Votes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 08 November 2012 05:35

'Dreamers' Came Out To Encourage Voters To Head To The Polls

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

To the tune of Mariachi Music, members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) woke up a North Hollywood neighborhood early Tuesday morning, Nov. 6, encouraging them to go out and vote.

Later in the day, CHIRLA members Antonio Bernabe and Fabiana Barcenas, who were part of the nine-state New Americans Vote Campaign, walked the same area while other groups fanned across the San Fernando Valley talking with voters.

"We're visiting people to make sure they have voted, and if not, to encourage them to go out and vote," Bernabe said.

The Election Day efforts were the latest in a series of actions aimed at those areas with new voters, and where eligible voters may not register or, if they do, don't actually make it to the polls. In previous weeks groups of CHIRLA members, many of them "Dreamers" – undocumented students – visited thousands of these voters, primarily in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Three of those "Dreamers" were sisters Zuleyma and Saira Barajas, their mother Maria Galvan and fellow student Hassan Josue Zuniga, who visited several homes last week in Sylmar.

"We want people to make the right decisions for the future," said Zuleyma Barajas as she walked in a neighborhood near Los Angeles Mission College. A future where, she said, she hopes to vote.

Born in Mexico, Zuleyma, her sister Saira and their mother Maria Galvan arrived in the United States 13 years ago. Both sisters, who are 22 and 20-yearsold, respectively, can't vote; neither can their mother, because of their immigration status.

But the sisters have benefited from the Deferred Action program President Barack Obama approved earlier this year, which allows the so-called "Dreamers," that is immigrants younger than 30 who arrived in the U.S. before turning 16, to remain and work in the country legally for the next two years, provided they are or have finished school.

"This is the part that we can do now," said Saira, speaking of their efforts to get the vote out in the northeast San Fernando Valley. "This is something that matters to us. Latinos [who can vote] are the voice of us who can not do it," Zuleyma added.

Wanting A Chance To Vote

"I'm very interested in what happens in this country because I'm here since I was nine-yearsold. We want people to vote to help each other out and maybe in the future we will also have the chance to vote," said Zuniga who, along with the Barajas attends Los Angeles Valley College. Jorge Mario Cabrera, a CHIRLA spokesman, said the decision to have "Dreamers" visit homes was a way to illustrate the need for an immigration reform in the Presidential term. "The young Dreamers have joined this campaign because even though they can't vote, they're asking voters to protect their dreams and fight so that the next Administration approves something beyond a Deferred Action," Cabrera said.

Cabrera noted that more than 302,979 California voters were reached through the effort. "In addition to calling thousands of voters each evening, CHIRLA volunteers walked precincts where voters have either stopped voting or vote irregularly," he said."The idea is that all those who can, do vote."And many of them did.

People At The Polls

By 10 a.m., the polling booths at Holy Rosary Church in North Hollywood were packed and people waited in line to vote. "We had people waiting in line when we opened, which was very surprising," said poll worker Theresa Guillen. For many who came to vote, the main concern was a faltering economy that they hope the next president would be able to fix.

"We want more jobs," said Reyna Morán as she came out from voting along with her son, Miguel.

Morán said she decided to give Obama four more years because, even though he made a lot of promises he didn't keep, she still thinks he's the best man for the job.

"He got the country already broken and he can't do it all by himself. He has tried to do things," she said, before adding that she's a Democrat and doesn't trust Republicans. "Republicans have always gone against the poor."

It was the same for Rolando and Alba Natareno.

"I hope the economy gets better. There are millions of people without jobs," said Rolando. "We hope the country gets up." "He looks a little more sincere," said Alba, on why they decided to vote for Obama. Another voter, Dionisia Muñoz ,said she opted for Obama because she thought he offered the best for children and seniors.

"The other candidate (Romney) is rich and he doesn't want to help us with anything," she said.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 08 November 2012 05:50