Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders huddled with President Barack Obama on Tuesday to discuss immigration issues and the lame-duck Congress, but no clear strategy emerged.
Obama and Hispanic Democrats reiterated their support for the DREAM Act, which would provide a path for citizenship for immigrant youths illegally brought into the United States before they were 16, and both called for the House and Senate to vote on the measure before Congress adjourns for the year.
“We need a clear Democratic commitment in order to persuade Republicans, who are needed to get us over the finish line, to step forward,” said Rep. Luís Gutierrez, D-Ill.
A last-minute push for the DREAM Act comes as Republicans prepare to take control of the House and pick up seats in the Senate in the 112th Congress, which convenes in January.
Democrats failed to get the DREAM Act passed in the Senate earlier this year when they attached the immigration measure, as well as a repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays and lesbians in the military, to a defense spending bill.
Republicans who once favored the Dream Act opposed it as an addition to the defense bill, and further pressure is mounting on GOP members who favor the immigration measure from tea party activists who oppose it as an “amnesty.”
The DREAM Act, or Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, would require the affected youths to enter the armed forces or attend college for two years, clear a background check and have no criminal records to be eligible for citizenship.
Roughly 800,000 teens and young adults would be eligible, according to immigration rights groups.
The DREAM Act enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. It has since been caught up in the rancorous immigration reform debate.