If President Barack Obama aimed to reach Hispanic voters with his focus on immigration this week, his plan may have backfired.
A group of immigration activists complained that an Obama for America campaign email sent this week calling for immigration reform while requesting donations suggests that Obama is “asking people to pay for his leadership.”
The fundraising email, sent four hours after the president renewed his push for immigration reform in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday, included a link for donations at the bottom and called on readers to join the president’s immigration agenda by signing up on the campaign site. Those who did so were led to a donation page.
It is similar to emails routinely sent by the president’s campaign office as he gears up for the election cycle. In fact, users who sign up through the barackobama.com home page get redirected to the same donation page.
But activists with the United We Dream Network said the fundraising request is yet another signal that the president is not serious about passing less-punitive immigration laws. The group also faulted the president for failing to pass immigration reform last year.
“Instead of choosing to end our pain, he has chosen to use our suffering to grow his campaign,” the group wrote in a statement.
The network consists of 20,000 young activists, many of whom are in the U.S. illegally, who support the DREAM Act. That bill would give some immigrants a path to legalization through college or military service.
It passed the House last year but failed in the Senate, where United We Dream organizer Gaby Pacheco said the president’s leadership could have made a difference. In the campaign email, the DREAM Act was listed as a key part of the president’s agenda.
“We were completely blown away to see that President Obama is using the DREAM Act, this issue that is the No. 1 issue for Latino voters, to ask people for money,” Pacheco said.
In response, the Obama campaign said in a statement: “The President has been a long-time supporter of the Dream Act and he will continue to fight for its passage so that our young people can pursue the education that they deserve.”
Pacheco said members of her group had campaigned for the president in 2008 but are rethinking whether to do so in 2012.
“We are becoming every day more disillusioned with the president,” she said. Obama’s immigration speech Tuesday “was not a speech to talk realistically about immigration but rather an election speech and a launch to try to get the Latino vote.”
The group has also started a petition demanding that the Obama campaign take down a page on its site showing Obama’s picture and the words, “I want to sign the DREAM Act into law, but I need your help to do the hard work of changing minds and changing votes, one at a time.” It, too, leads to a donation page.
The United We Dream petition had just more than 280 signatures Friday, a day after it was created, but Pacheco said her group is reaching out to other immigrant-rights organizations to see if they will join. Presente.org, one such group, has already lent its support.