Geraldo Rivera: Democrats Need to Put Up or Shut Up

Put up or shut up.

And no, I’m not talking about Senator Harry Reid.

Sooner or later, the Majority Leader’s infamous claim of a source on Mitt Romney’s alleged decade-long non-payment of income tax will be tested.

My ultimatum is more honorable and straight-forward.

It is directed at all Democrats who covet the all-important Latino vote this November.

The mandatory minimum for support from Latino voters should be support for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, also known as the DREAM Act.

You know the history. First proposed in 2001, and finally passed by Democrats in 2010 when they controlled the House, but blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate, the compassionate DREAM Act legislation to legalize the presence of those undocumented immigrants brought here when they were children has languished.

With any move to re-introduce the act targeted by a ferocious and energized Tea Party, the issue has long been avoided by gutless liberals.

Since the 2010 mid-term elections, there was no movement to help the immigrant kids.

Then President Obama did an end-run around Congress in June.

He announced a stay on deportation for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States under the age of 16, and who are now pursuing either an education or military service.

It was a stunning move by the president, and widely supported by voters surveyed.

Only, the fact that he did it during an election season in which he desperately needs the Latino vote diminished the nobility of the move.

Now there is a simple way for the president and his party to show they are sincere in wanting to do the right thing for these innocent immigrants. They can put support for the DREAM Act in the Democrat Party platform.

Given the unpopularity of anything that smacks of compassion for the undocumented, the move is not without political risk. Without doubt, Republicans will pounce, equating the platform plank with proposed amnesty.

That it is why the effort led by three Democratic Senate candidates to put the DREAM Act in their party platform is so admirable.

Led by Rep. Martin Heinrich, who is running for the U.S. Senate in New Mexico, and by two other U.S. Senate candidates in the Southwest -- Nevada’s Shelley Berkley and Richard Carmona in Arizona -- the move would highlight the differences between the parties.

Gov. Romney has pledged to veto the DREAM Act if it is passed by Congress.

During the primary campaign he destroyed his opponents for alleged softness in dealing with the undocumented. He crushed Gov. Rick Perry for his support of Texas’ version of the legislation. Romney also made mince-meat of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for proposing that undocumented immigrants who have been here for 25 years or more be cut some slack.

With Sen. Marco Rubio likely bypassed as vice-presidential nominee, immigration hawks now hold undisputed control of the GOP.

All most Republicans talk about is more border enforcement.

With the announcement of his own DREAM Act, President Obama stopped the erosion of Latino support caused by the bad economy and by his unrelenting campaign to deport as many undocumented as the feds could get their hands on.

But his action is not law and can be reversed by the next occupant of the White House with the stroke of a pen or a phone call to the Department of Homeland Security.

Since everyone agrees that border enforcement and security are vitally important, and that criminal aliens should continue to be targeted, arrested and deported, support for DREAM Act legislation is where Democrats can draw the line between the parties.

To erase the suspicion that Mr. Obama’s executive order was just an election-year ploy, and to re-energize Latino voters who seem less enthusiastic than they did four years ago, his party can do the right thing.

They can announce to the world that as a matter of policy Democrats stand with the innocent youngsters whose parents brought them here in search of a better life.