President Obama said he would urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act during the lame duck session – and would even personally call members to push for their support, two Congressional members who met with him said today.
“I am still committed to comprehensive immigration reform. Give me the DREAM Act as a down payment,” the president told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, according to U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
The DREAM Act, which failed to pass the Senate in September, would allow certain foreign-born young people who entered the United States as undocumented children to become naturalized citizens.
Gutierrez of Illinois and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velasquez of New York told reporters Tuesday that Obama continued to affirm his commitment to immigration reform, but acknowledged passing it would not be easy. Gutierrez said they would start with trying to pass the DREAM Act, which would have an better chance.
However, the Congress members said their toughest battle would be in the U.S. Senate, where the president would have to work to get votes.
Both members warned that Democrats ignore the concerns of the Hispanic community at their peril.
“Three U.S. Senators—Senators Reid, Barbara Boxer, and Michael Bennet—and many other Democratic candidates in state and federal races owe their jobs to the support of Latino and immigrant voters who helped fight back against anti-reform politicians whose messages were often ugly and divisive,” Gutierrez said.
According to the Associated Press, Obama also called for Congress to act on comprehensive changes to immigration law "at the earliest opportunity."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.