They will not be able to vote in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, but young, undocumented Latinos in the state have become a force to be reckoned with during this election cycle.
DREAMers Hector Salamanca, 22, and Monica Reyes, 25, are confronting the presidential candidates on their immigration platforms, using cell phones to record their interactions. It’s a method called “bird-dogging.”
“It’s a really useful tool here in Iowa because the candidates are always here and always accessible,” Salamanca told Fusion’s Mariana Atencio in Des Moines. “We go to the events and we try and catch the candidate as soon as possible.”
“We don’t do it for the attention. We do it to bring back this communication to our community,” said Reyes. “I got to ask my question in Spanish so that I could share it with our community in a language that they understand.”
“It really puts a lot of pressure on the candidates to answer our question in an accurate way,” Salamanca said.
But their influence goes beyond the internet. Salamanca will serve as a precinct captain for Bernie Sanders’ campaign during the caucuses, and Reyes has become the “go-to person” to inform young undecided Latino voters in her community.
“Can you tell us what’s going on with politics? Can you tell me this and that and they listen to me,” said Reyes. They want to know from me because they know me and what I represent.”
And they’re encouraging other DREAMERs to get involved during Monday’s caucuses, despite their status.