Obama says he still supports DREAM Act

July 25, 2011 at 4:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama says he supports the so-called DREAM Act and promises to redouble his efforts to get the immigration legislation passed.

"We are pursuing it right now. We were pursuing it last year," he told Univision Radio ahead of a 12:50 p.m. EDT Monday luncheon address before the National Council of La Raza annual conference in Washington.

"We should be welcoming [the undocumented students] and so I've consistently said that I am a strong supporter of the DREAM Act," he said.

The measure, whose acronym stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, provides a six-year path to permanent residency for some children of illegal immigrants.

Under the act, the specifically defined group of people would be able to attain full U.S. citizenship if they keep their criminal record clean, graduate from high school, and attend college or join the U.S. military.

The measure was sidelined by a Senate filibuster in September, but Obama, along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, joined Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., in supporting the bill.

"We've had problems with Republican members of Congress, some of whom previously supported ... the DREAM Act, but for some reason, because of politics, have pulled their support from it," Obama told Univision. "And so we need to rebuild that support and put pressure for members of Congress to do the right thing on this issue."

Earlier supporting GOP Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Jon Kyl of Arizona, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina withheld their support when the bill was reintroduced May 11 because they said they wanted stronger laws against illegal immigrants working in the United States.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would consider adding a workplace-enforcement measure to the act requiring all employers to use the government's online E-Verify work-eligibility verification system.

In July 2008, when Obama ran for president, he promised the National Conference of La Raza he would make immigration reform a priority during the first year of his presidency.

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