The townhall that awaits the candidates

The next presidential face-off will take place in Long Island, where nearly 500,000 Latinos live. After disappointing Hispanics, the candidates better “bring it” on the issues that matter to us.

The presidential debate this week in Colorado, where Latinos are 20 percent of the population, mostly focused on the economy, taxes and Medicare. The moderator and the candidates failed to pose a question or comment on immigration reform, which is critical for the nation’s economic future.

Surprisingly, President Obama did not point to his recent deferred deportation initiative to differentiate himself from Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Latino voters were also waiting to hear details from Romney about his supposed plan for undocumented students. Only days ago, the Romney camp said their candidate would suspend Obama’s temporary measure for undocumented youth. Yet the former Massachusetts governor is against the Dream Act, which would provide these young people with an opportunity to legalize their status and get on the path to citizenship.

For all the chest-beating around creating jobs, Romney also did not explain how he would make sure his proposals would engage and specifically address job access for Hispanics, who, at 11 percent, have an unemployment rate that is above the national average.

At the upcoming townhall, Romney and Obama should be asked about these and other problems that deeply affect Hispanics, and in turn, the nation.

Latinos leaders and organizations across the nation should continue to remind the candidates that silence on our issues is not golden. In fact, it begs great political peril.