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In Iowa, DREAMers confront Clinton

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hillary Clinton was confronted by DREAMers in Iowa about Obama's immigration delay
  • They weren't happy with her response
  • The DREAMers promised to keep the pressure on Democrats and Republicans

(CNN) -- Hillary Clinton was confronted by immigration reform activists in Iowa over the weekend. The activists accused President Obama of breaking promises to immigrants and wanted to know what Clinton would do about the issue.

She told them to "elect more Democrats."

The former secretary of state and likely future presidential candidate was signing autographs and T-shirts and participating in selfies in Iowa on Sunday when a DREAMer tried to turn the conversation to immigration and deportations.

Monica Reyes announced herself as a DREAMer, an undocumented immigrant brought to the U.S. by parents.

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Clinton, wearing black sunglasses, responded, "Yay."

"I was wondering what you feel about Obama's delay on immigration," Reyes asked Clinton in an in an exchange caught on video by immigration reform activists.

While Clinton continued down the line of people behind metal barriers, she responded, "I think we have to keep working -- can't stop ever working."

President Barack Obama recently announced that he was postponing his announcement to address broken immigration policy until after the elections. The decision infuriated immigration advocates, who were already disappointed in the record number of deportations during Obama's tenure.

Cesar Vargas, a member of the DRM Coalition standing next to Reyes, pointedly followed up. "The President has broken his promise to the Latino community, and we wanted to know if you stand by the President's delay on immigration," he said.

Clinton kept moving but said, "You know, I think we have to elect more Democrats."

Hillary Clinton's return to Iowa: a fresh start or deja vu?

This was the first time Clinton had been to Iowa as a politician since she lost the caucuses there in 2008 to then-Sen. Barack Obama. At Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry in Indianola on Monday, her speech, filled with foreshadowing innuendos, added to the speculation that Clinton is seriously plotting a second presidential run.

Vargas and fellow DREAMers also confronted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist who is toying with a presidential run, in Iowa over the weekend. On Twitter, Vargas wrote that Sanders hit a "home run" while Clinton struck out.

But the activists' attendance at the Clinton and Sanders events signals that the immigrant community and immigration advocates are going to put political pressure on candidates contemplating a presidential run.

"The message we want to make clear to them is they should not take our community for granted," Cristina Jimenez, co-founder of United We Dream, told CNN.

Latinos, who are not the only community affected by deportations but recently has been the largest, tend to vote for Democrats. They backed Obama overwhelmingly -- by more than 70% -- in the 2008 and 2012 elections.

"We ask Republicans the question 'why do they want to deport us,' and we're going to do the same thing with Democrats," Jimenez told CNN. "Both parties have really failed our community."

DREAMers interrupted one of Sen. Marco Rubio's events in South Carolina, also a key presidential nominating state, last month. And earlier in August, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul abruptly left a lunch table in Iowa when Vargas and fellow DREAMers confronted colleague and immigration hard-liner Rep. Steve King.

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