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Benita Veliz’s appearance at DNC signals another turning point for the DREAM Act

LatinaLista — Ever since the Democratic National Convention convened in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Republicans have kept pretty mum on comparing their convention of last week. When it comes to delegate enthusiasm, dynamic speeches promoting the nominee and lack of embarrassing speakers or having to expel delegates because of their behavior, the Democrats have, so far, topped the Republicans.

Benita Veliz, the first undocumented person to address a national political party convention

But there is one area that Republicans are seizing upon as outdoing their opponents — featuring prominent Latino Republicans on their convention stage.

From New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz to Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio and Puerto Rico’s Governor Luis Fortuño, the GOP went out of their way to feature Latinos on stage and in front of the cameras.

But even while Democrats enjoy an enormous advantage in the polls among Hispanic voters, some have questioned whether the GOP boasts a deeper bench of promising Latino leaders – as evidenced by not only the large number of Latino speakers at the convention week festivities, but also the rank and star power of some of the party’s Hispanic lawmakers.

Yet, it’s one thing to showcase Hispanic members of the party, no matter their star power, and quite another to actually address the issues that impact the Latino community.

In all the attention showered on showcasing rising Hispanic GOP members, the party, not once, mentioned immigration reform or the DREAM Act.

While both issues don’t impact every single Latino in the country, the issues do matter to a sizable percentage of Latinos and the impact of enforcement policies can and have affected Latino citizens. To ignore it is to dismiss a reality for too many Latino families.

That’s why the appearance of Benita Veliz, a DREAM youth from San Antonio, at the Democratic National Convention last night threatened to eclipse the appearance of every other Latino who has taken the stage at either the Democrat or Republican conventions.

Veliz didn’t just represent a bold move to have the first undocumented person address a national political party convention, and in prime time to boot (no pun intended), but it was her turn to put a face to an issue that has been mischaracterized, villified and spoken in abstract terms to such a degree that the human element has purposely been removed from the issue. It’s the human element that should cause the issue to be a priority for all Americans to want solved by Congress.

Some are questioning the wisdom of having Veliz appear at the convention at such a high-profile hour. But in having her do so, the Democrats are not only putting a face to an issue that hangs over the heads of all congressional lawmakers but, in probably the only example for both conventions, the inclusion of this Latina speaker can’t be criticized as a pandering move — because no one other than an undocumented youth, like Veliz, could speak from the heart and plead for passage of a bill that is all about humanity.

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