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Obama states support for the DREAM Act during the lame duck

President Obama reiterated his support for the DREAM Act during a meeting this afternoon with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), all of the pro-immigration reform Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Obama said he believes Congress should act on the issue before adjourning.

Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have signaled they hope to hold votes this session on the act, which would allow some undocumented young people to gain legal status if they attended college or served in the military for two years.

Politico has the full readout from the meeting, which also states Obama’s continued commitment to comprehensive immigration reform “at the earliest opportunity”:

“The President reiterated his support for fixing the broken immigration system and urged the CHC leaders to work to restore the bipartisan coalition backing comprehensive immigration reform. The President repeated his hope that, with the election season’s pressures past, Congressional Republicans would work with their Democratic colleagues not only to strengthen security at the nation’s borders, but also to restore responsibility and accountability to what everyone agrees is a broken immigration system. The President reiterated his strong support for bipartisan Congressional action on immigration reform at the earliest opportunity, noting that the American people expect both parties to work together to tackle the challenges confronting our nation.”

Obama has consistently stated his support for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. But with a likely tight vote ahead for the act in the Senate, Gutierrez said the president’s support is needed to ensure a united Democratic effort to pass the bill.

“With the White House, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and every Democratic Leader in the House and Senate pulling in the same direction, we can pass the DREAM Act before the end of the 111th Congress,” he said in a press release after the meeting.

Right now, it is unclear whether all Democrats would vote for the DREAM Act, which is a problem given the Republicans’ larger share of the Senate after the newly elected Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) takes Obama’s former seat. At least five Democrats who voted against the DREAM Act in 2007 told The Hill they are still uncertain on how they would vote this year, and only two Republicans have said they would vote for the act as a standalone bill. Reid needs at least 60 votes to prevent a Republican filibuster — the tactic that took down the effort to insert the DREAM Act and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into the defense authorization bill in September.

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