President Barack Obama urged the Senate on Wednesday to pass an immigration bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to attach to the annual defense authorization.
The president said he “will do whatever it takes to support” passage of the bill, known as the DREAM Act. It would provide a pathway to citizenship for people who came to the United States illegally as children and who serve in the military or go to college as adults.
“Keep in mind, in the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans,” Obama said in a speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 33rd Annual Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center. “There’s no reason why it shouldn’t receive that same kind of bipartisan support today. I’ve been a supporter since I was in the Senate.”
He is scheduled to discuss Senate action on the measure and the path ahead for comprehensive immigration legislation in a meeting Thursday afternoon with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).
Obama also expressed his commitment to comprehensive reform in his speech Wednesday night. “I know that many of you campaigned hard for me, and understandably you’re frustrated that we have not been able to move this over the finish line yet. I am too,” he said. “But let me be clear: I will not walk away from this fight. My commitment is getting this done as soon as we can. We cannot keep kicking this challenge down the road.”
Reid plans to bring the defense authorization with the immigration language to the Senate floor next week, and Menendez is expected to introduce a comprehensive measure soon.