Four years of DACA: Democrats hit GOP over immigration

Dreamer talking about why she supports Hillary For America. She's organizing now for support. 8/15/16 (Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

Four years ago this summer, with the stroke of a pen, President Obama changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people here illegally. If they met certain conditions, they could stay – temporarily. The program is known as “DACA,” short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

One of them is Victoria Ruiz, who turns 20 on Tuesday. For the past four years, she’s been breathing a sigh of relief.

“I am one of those dreamers. I arrived to the United States when I was 8 years old,” Ruiz told reporters today at Del Sol High School, where she served as the kickoff speaker for a Democratic campaign event.

Ruiz is one of the 12,000 young Nevadans the President has protected from deportation.

Even though she can’t vote, she’ll be going into the Latino community to get people who can – to vote Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton has come to Las Vegas multiple times. She has sat with us with Dreamers and our families,” Ruiz said.

A year ago June at her first local campaign stop, Clinton, with Dreamers, called for a full path to citizenship.

14 months later, her down-ticket Democrats today hit Republican opponents over immigration.

In the Third District

“My Tea Party opponent, Danny Tarkanian wants to build a wall,” said Democrat Jacky Rosen.

In the Fourth District

“In Congress, he voted to defund DACA,” said Democrat Ruben Kihuen, referring to GOP incumbent Cresent Hardy.

(In January 2015, Hardy, along with the rest of the Nevada delegation, voted against an amendment that would have blocked funding. The amendment passed and Democrats criticize Hardy for voting in favor of the final bill. His office tells News 3 he did that because the measure also contained security elements Hardy considered critical. The Senate amended the House bill, and the final version Hardy supported did not contain cuts to DACA funding.)

And in the race for Senate

“He supports Donald Trump as the next President of the United States,” said Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, referring to her U.S. Senate opponent, Congressman Joe Heck.

Democrats hope it’s a trifecta of trouble for Republicans in a state that’s growing more diverse.

“Cresent Hardy has a very tough sell to make,” Kihuen says about the 4th Congressional District, which is roughly 30 percent Latino. “He supports Donald Trump, who is racist, who is a bigot, who wants to deport 11 million people.”

Hardy has said Trump is the better of the two presidential candidates, although he acknowledges he has disagreed with Trump over some of his comments. Hardy recently told a Republican gathering he would “support him 100%,” referring to the nominee.

In Nevada, immigration will be a top issue.

Heck says he’s for immigration reform and he has criticized Republicans for dragging their feet on the issue. On DACA, Heck voted to defund it before it was implemented but later said those already in the program should not have their protection revoked.

Cortez Masto says Heck is still wrong on immigration.

“What you've seen in Congressman Heck's voting record – everything he's done he's voted with the right wing and Tea Party nine times out of ten,” Cortez Masto told News 3.

Heck is one of many Republicans who say border security is paramount, especially in this era of terrorism.

“I think we can have security and comprehensive immigration reform. That’s the idea of the word ‘comprehensive,’” says 3rd District candidate Rosen. “So we need to make sure our borders are safe. We need to make sure we’re addressing the issues of the 12 million people that are here and how we look at vetting people going forward.”

In a statement, Rosen's opponent, Republican Danny Tarkanian, said the Democrat is out-of-step with Nevadans.

"Jacky Rosen is now on the record supporting an executive order allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. Jacky Rosen is a status-quo defender," said Tarkanian.

Like Rosen, Tarkanian says security is important.

"We need a safe and secure border, real visa enforcement and strong vetting procedures to ensure our national security," said Tarkanian.

In the meantime, for Ruiz, the issue is personal.

“I have my personal story which I definitely share when I come and talk to my Latino community,” Ruiz said.

It’s a story which she hopes wins votes for a candidate she hopes wins – period.

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