POLITICS

Sanders campaign hires prominent Dreamer and immigration activist

Sen. Bernie Sanders  at Drake University on June 12, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sen. Bernie Sanders at Drake University on June 12, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.  (2015 Getty Images)

Another presidential campaign has brought to its ranks a Dreamer, the term used to describe undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

The campaign of Democrat Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has hired Cesar Vargas, a long-time activist for more flexible immigration policies who earlier this year became the first undocumented immigrant to be permitted to practice law in New York.

Vargas will be the campaign’s Latino outreach strategist in Nevada.

In May, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hired Lorella Praeli as Latino outreach director. Like Vargas, Praeli, who was undocumented and eventually got her green card three years ago, was among the nation’s most vocal Dreamers.

“It shows the evolution of the Dreamer movement,” Vargas told Fusion. “We’ve graduated from colleges, we’ve been politically active on immigration reform. Now Dreamers want to be a part of the 2016 election.”

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“I think that Senator [Sanders] took a step further than the rest,” Vargas said to reporters. “Not only did he meet with Dreamers because they are good people, as Hillary Clinton has said, but he also included us in his team in order to make sure that his platform includes the issues and the needs of our community.”

Vargas came to this country when he just 5 years old. He is currently in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which gives undocumented immigrants brought here as children a two-year reprieve from deportation, and allows them to work as well as receive some federal benefits.

Several polls have shown that Sanders is something of an enigma to many Latinos, in contrast to his main Democratic rival, Clinton, who has tended to do well among them.

"He doesn't have the connection with the community that Hillary Clinton does," Joe Trippi, a longtime Democratic strategist who managed Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, told Fox News Latino. "There isn't any way that Sanders can get the nomination with the problems he's having expanding beyond white progressives."

Sanders recently appointed Arturo Carmona as the Latino outreach coordinator for his campaign. Carmona had a nationally high profile as executive director of the activist rights group Presente.org.

"Let me be very honest with you. I come from a state, the state of Vermont, [and] it's a small state; there aren't a lot of Latino people," Sanders said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

"What we are trying very, very hard to do – you are going to see us moving very aggressively in that area – is introduce myself to the Latino community," Sanders said at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's annual Public Policy Conference earlier this month. 

"I will fight for every vote I can get in the Latino community," he added.

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