WASHINGTON--President Obama met with Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Nydia Velazquez at the White House on Thursday to discuss an upcoming Senate vote on immigration legislation--which includes the DREAM Act, designed to provide students who are not in the country legally a way to continue their studies. The DREAM Act allows undocumented students who came to the US before age 16 to become legal residents after five years by completing higher education or military service.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will attach the non-controversial DREAM Act to the more controversial defense authorization bill which includes the repeal of the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy to be considered at some point next week in the Senate.
Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican said on Tuesday that the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" repeal and the DREAM Act were “extraneous measures that have nothing to do with defense,” making the bill “needlessly controversial.”
Sen. Menendez defended the move today following the Oval Office meeting, saying it is “appropriate” and he hopes Republicans will join Democrats on this. In a paper statement following the meeting, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the bill’s sponsor, said he’s certain the House has the 218 votes to pass it if the Senate can. "With the White House standing with us and the Senate poised to act, I think we are seeing the immigration reform effort begin to bear fruit. There are at least 218 votes in the House to pass the DREAM Act. The House is ready to act. We call on the Senate to pass the bill," he said in a statement.
At the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Dinner on Wednesday evening the president personally vouched for the bill. “The Senate is going to have a chance to do the right thing over the next few weeks when Senator Reid brings the DREAM Act to the floor. Keep in mind, in the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t receive that same kind of bipartisan support today.” The president said he will do “whatever it takes” to help pass the bill so he can sign it into law, “It’s the right thing to do. We should get it done."
Obama Promises to Push for the DREAM Act