President Barack Obama called on Congress in his State of the Union address to approve the so-called DREAM Act, which would open a path to legalizing the status of young undocumented immigrants.
Obama feels that comprehensive immigration reform that allows the current system to be adjusted and improved is indispensable, and this would fulfill one of his 2008 campaign promises, although his calls for action on this matter have gone nowhere in Congress due to Republican opposition.
“I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my Administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office,” the president said.
That, he added, leaves no excuses for those who oppose such reform.
“We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now,” said Obama in addressing a joint session of Congress.
But, he added, if “election-year politics” prevents Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, “let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”
The DREAM Act was approved by the House in December 2010 but it did not get the 60 votes needed in the Senate to avoid a Republican move to block it.
The measure would permit the legalization of undocumented students who, among other requirements, entered the country before they were 16, complete at least two years of college or enlist in the Armed Forces.
The front-running candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, recently announced that if the DREAM Act comes to his desk for signing while he is president he would veto it.