CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democrats broke yet another barrier Wednesday when they invited an illegal immigrant young adult onto the stage at their nominating convention in Charlotte — part of a historic Hispanic outreach program the party hopes will cement ties to the fast-growing ethnic voting bloc in the country.
It’s likely the first time an illegal immigrant has taken the podium at a major party convention, and highlights President Obama’s own stance on the issue: The student, Benita Veliz, had her deportation halted under Mr. Obama’s non-deportation policies.
In a pointed political appeal, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, the Illinois Democrat who has become his party’s de facto leader in pushing immigration reforms, said the fate of Ms. Veliz and a million other illegal immigrants rests on whether Mr. Obama gets re-elected.
“President Obama is protecting immigrants. Mitt Romney wants to send them back,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “This election will determine whether high school valedictorians, football team captains, and student council presidents will be treated with respect — or treated like suspects. Whether they reach their dreams, or whether Mitt Romney turns their dreams into nightmares.”