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Obama to Hispanic Caucus: Calls for DREAM Act Passage, but No Specifics

3 years ago
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Meeting with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the White House Tuesday, President Obama reiterated his support for fixing the country's "broken immigration system" -- but gave little indication that in this year's remaining lame-duck congressional session, his administration could win passage of key legislation granting legal status to some illegal immigrant students.

The president, in a White House statement released following the meeting, thanked caucus members Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) "for their constant efforts on this issue" and highlighted earlier bipartisan support for the DREAM Act. The president further "reiterated his strong support for bipartisan Congressional action on immigration reform at the earliest opportunity," though most -- if not all -- immigration-reform advocates do not believe comprehensive reform will be possible this year -- or possibly even in the next session of Congress.

The DREAM Act would open a path to citizenship for illegal immigrant students by granting conditional legal status if they arrived in the United States before they were 16 years old, have been in the states for at least five years, have graduated from high school in the United States and completed two years of college or military service.

Though the proposed legislation initially enjoyed bipartisan support, Senate Republicans including John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) have said in recent weeks that they would not support it. The DREAM Act is presently attached to a defense spending authorization bill awaiting passage in Congress.

Congressman Gutierrez said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that he was "all-in" for the DREAM Act, and that he was optimistic the provision could pass in the remaining congressional calendar. "Speaker Pelosi has indicated to me personally that she wants the House to move on the DREAM Act. Majority Leader Harry Reid has consistently supported a DREAM Act vote during lame-duck, and now the president and I have had an opportunity to discuss the lame-duck strategy," read the release.

Immigration advocacy groups remained split on the possibility that Congress will pass the legislation. "Never say never, but it's really, really, really hard to imagine" something happening, said Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of Immigration Works, a pro-immigration business advocacy group. "The pattern that I'm somewhat concerned about is one we've seen since March," she added, "where the president and congressional Democrats have been in the guise of inviting Republicans to participate [in the immigration debate], but use it as way to box Republicans in -- and to make sure that Democrats get credit with Latinos for bringing it up."

Jacoby characterizes the issue as becoming a political football -- "Latinos voted for Democrats in this year's elections, and [meetings like this one] are the president's way of saying, 'We heard you.'"

Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America's Voice, remained upbeat about the prospect of the act's passage in Congress: "I think it's interesting that they're choosing to meet now" she said of the White House meeting. "There's lots of momentum about moving the DREAM act [forward]. We're feeling more optimistic than ever."

But as far as White House leadership on the issue, Tramonte said, "The president made a promise to tackle immigration reform within his first year. The fact that law enforcement has remained very tough, but there haven't been gains in reform is very concerning to advocates and to the Latino community." She continued, "Obama has voiced his support and spoken elegantly on the issue, but he should put some muscle into the DREAM Act to show that he's serious."

One senior official familiar with Tuesday's meeting said that Hispanic caucus members were upbeat, but that that they still "really need the president to pick up the phone and call some Republicans" to garner support for the DREAM Act. Whether -- and when -- President Obama will do that remains to be seen.

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29 Comments

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Alice

before the illegal immigration gets past and all of us have to pay for it our own americans need to be sure that our rights are not used for others who have never paid a dime into the system and all the rich who seem to want to do this pay their fair share people on ss have paid into the system all their working lives and now you want us to pay for those who have never paid one dime and who come into our country and get all kinds of freebies ou own citizens cant get what is fair about that our families came into the country legally and with restrictions as they should do its bad enough that they have taken away jobs from many americans and get rewarded for it no way where is the outrage. wake up and give americans their justice. no ss for illegala they havent earned it you work 30 to 40 years and see if you get back everything you put into the system while you are alive i dont think so

December 06 2010 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lisac3333

We, the people of America, of all races, all backgrounds, say NO to ILLEGALS!!!! Those who are not AMERICANS support ILLEGALS. ILLEGALS are NOT IMMIGRANTS!!!! America cannot support more people at this time. We are in a crisis of Over Population and an influx of ILLEGALS supported by our enemies who are too cowardly to stand up and fight openly, but send in their hoard of poor to do the initial job and smother America so that when they do invade openly, America is helpless to fight back and all the hoards of terrorists and ILLEGALS INSIDE AMERICA will turn on Americans and destroy us all.

November 22 2010 at 10:25 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
John

My daughter has to pay out of state tuition even though she was born and lived in the state were she attended college. Just becuase I was transferred to another state they penalize her. However, some one not a citizen of the US, goes to college in the US and pays no out of state tuition. This is illegal, stupid and wrong.

November 20 2010 at 5:21 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment
dc walker

.......my daughter too. We were stationed overseas and when we came back we went to a state where I hadn't lived since I was a young girl but had to pay out of state tuition.

January 11 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ettu

Wonder how all those cool young college students in CA are liking their sanctuary status for illegals, in view of the tuition dustup, the crime stats, and the economic meltdown of their State.

November 20 2010 at 1:49 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

Black caucus, hispanic caucus. Is there a white caucus? How about a Native American caucus anyone in congress with Native American ancestry?? Not even a token person like the one DC sends to congress? Souldn't they have a say in how many more immigrants come into the US?

November 20 2010 at 9:13 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

The "dream act" sounds like another taxpayer nightmare....

November 17 2010 at 9:23 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
Michael

With friends like Obama, who need enemies?

November 17 2010 at 9:18 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
caslideurh

There's an Hispanic Caucus, and There's a Black Caucus, BUT........... Is there a Native American Caucus that has a say in what the hell you're doing to THEIR Country.

November 17 2010 at 8:45 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Malvada Divina

How about insuring basic civil rights for our own citizens before you give rights to foreigners?

November 17 2010 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Malvada Divina's comment
ettu

It seems this will not occur, under the current Administration.

November 20 2010 at 1:47 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

The University of Virginia just completed a study on one of the counties in the state that checked the citizenship of anyone they had arrested for other offenses. Once fines etc. were paid they were handed over to ICE. The word went out illegals would get their documents checked if arrested. They fled the county. The study took the statistics two years before this went into effect and two years after, the result crime, assault, rape, etc. dropped 46%. Those legal hispanics benefitted by eliminating the criminal elements in their community. Unfortunately, crime in surrounding counties went up as well as english as a second language programs, etc.

November 17 2010 at 7:16 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply

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