Democratic Convention

Endorsement aside, Dreamers for Sanders still wary of Clinton nomination

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia attempting to sway his fervent followers to head to the polls in November for his former rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But after a grueling campaign season, which saw Sanders’ grassroots movement become a formidable challenge in Clinton’s second quest for the White House, many of the lawmaker’s most dedicated supporters are not as willing as their candidate is to throw their support behind his former adversary.

Of the die-hard Bernie backers, one group that has been particularly hesitant to get behind Clinton’s candidacy are the so-called Dreamers — young, undocumented immigrants who have been protected from deportation under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

“A lot of us are really upset and frustrated at the entire system and how things turned out,” Erika Andiola, a Dreamer and immigration activist who was hired by the Sanders campaign last fall to do Latino outreach, told Fox News Latino. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.”

Many Dreamers – who cannot vote but still have a major influence over the Latino electorate – say they are disillusioned by what they see as empty promises given by Democrats during election years – like those made by Obama in 2008 and 2012 – to pass comprehensive immigration reform. There is also a simmering anger over the record 2.5 million people deported under Obama’s administration since 2009.

Whether fairly or unfairly, Clinton – who served as Obama’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 – has been cast alongside the president when it comes to immigration. This has only exacerbated the concern in the minds of many supporters of Sanders that the Democratic establishment has tacitly worked to destabilize the Vermont senator’s presidential campaign and favor’s Clinton’s run for the White House.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as Democratic Party chairwoman on Sunday over leaked emails suggesting the supposedly neutral Democratic National Committee played favorites during the primaries by siding with Clinton and bad-mouthing Sanders.

“You feel like you’ve been undermined,” Andiola said. “Those who went out to vote must feel like their vote didn’t even count.”

Between the empty promise of immigration reform and the leaked emails, many Dreamers say that they feel the Democratic Party has taken them for granted – believing that when it comes down to a race with the Republicans, Hispanics will overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate.

While it is difficult to find any Latino supporters of Sanders who say they would vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that doesn’t mean that they will automatically head to the polls for Clinton now that she is only a few days away from accepting her party’s nomination.

“Will I support her outright? No.” Giancarlo Tello, a Dreamer who recently graduated from Rutgers University told FNL. “But will I work for her to defeat Trump? Definitely.”

Looking at Clinton and Sanders’ individual platforms on immigration, there is actually little to divide them.  

Both have called for the end of privately-run immigrant detention centers, both have denounced the recent raids on young Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. and both have called for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. — leaving both candidates far to the left of the present administration and even farther away from Trump, who has proposed deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and building a massive wall along the country’s border with Mexico.

“When Donald Trump talks about deporting 11 million people, he’s talking about ruining families,’ Astrid Silva, a Dreamer and Clinton support told the crowd inside the Wells Fargo Center on Monday evening. “Hillary Clinton understands that this is not what we want as a community. She will fight to keep our families together.”

It appears to be this fear – that if elected Trump will wipe out DACA upon taking office and start mass deportations – more than Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton Monday night or the similarities between the two Democratic candidates that have some Dreamers grudgingly admitting that they will have to put their efforts behind Clinton in the general election race.

“Obviously I won’t be supporting Trump, that’s for sure,” Esmeralda Escobar, a Dreamer from New York told FNL. “So if it comes down to Trump and Clinton, I guess I’ll put my support behind her.”

But that doesn’t mean that if elected president she will be able to ignore the concerns of the Dreamers or other immigration activists, who say they have learned from the past.

“As soon as Hillary Clinton gets into office, we have to start pushing her on immigration reform,” Andiola said. “But even before that we need to pressure her to stop deporting so many people.”

Andiola added: “She can’t keep up Obama’s deportation machine because that is unacceptable.”

Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.

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