Leaders of the U.S. immigrant community said they are concerned about the possible demobilization of the Latino vote in the November election.
"If you don't go vote, use your voice in the democracy, it means that you have lost hope and are voluntarily giving up your political power," Joshua Hoyt, co-president of the National Partnership for New Americans, told Efe on Monday.
Hoyt is among some 800 experts, activists and community leaders gathering in Baltimore this week for the National Immigrant Integration Conference 2012.
Among the speakers at the conference there is unanimity in pointing to the responsibility borne by Latinos who are citizens and are eligible to vote.
"You have to go out and vote and you also have to punish the politicians or reward those who are talking about issues that concern you," said Hoyt.
Participants at the conference admit that the fear of demobilization exists.
"There are people who are frustrated by the lack of immigration reform during the term that's ending now, others simply have not voted for a long time," Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, which is hosting the event, told Efe.
Despite that, groups such as his are calling upon activists to make an effort to convince Latinos of the importance of their vote and used current political issues to demonstrate it.
"The best way to integrate immigrants is to pass immigration reform," Torres argued.
He asserted that "if President Obama gets reelected he's going to have an extraordinary political moment, because the Republicans will take notice that they have lost the Latino vote and they will finally want to get moving on the problem of immigration."
Hoyt, who has known Obama since the 1980s, was more emphatic in affirming that if Obama wins the election people will have to demand that he take action on immigration.
"If Obama is elected thanks to the Latino vote, on Nov. 7 we have to be on top of him, beating him like a mule, so that he does what he has to do for the Latino community," he said.
Another issue that is on the table is deferred action, the Obama administration's temporary suspension for thousands of undocumented youths of the risk of being deported.
"If Gov. Romney is elected, we don't know what's going to happen," said Torres.
On the other hand, Hoyt said that the deferred action, which benefits so many undocumented students, has no reverse gear.
"If Romney manages to become president, he will be interested in getting reelected at the end of four years, he will support young Latinos. If not, there would be a revolution, not only in the Latino community, and it would be political suicide for him." EFE