The race is officially on to get the Dream Act passed this year, before newly elected members of Congress (mostly Republicans) are sworn in in January.
After meeting with Hispanic Congressional Caucus members last week, the White House is in full gear, trying to get the word out about an upcoming Senate vote.
Members of the cabinet, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have written letters of support (with Gates emphasizing that enlisting undocumented youths in the military is a key recruiting tool) and White House staffers have reached out to college presidents, Latino and Asian youth leaders and community organizers.
President Obama has made several calls to key senators, said White House education staffers in a Dream Act conference call today. She declined giving specific names, but with 60 votes needed to pass in the senate and 53 Democrats in favor of the bill, that leaves the president and his staff dialing up Republican senators like Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Olympia Snowe and Richard Lugar, who supported the bill when it last came up for a vote in 2007.
This latest effort to get the bill passed has already garnered fierce opposition from conservative critics, who have called the measure a just another form of amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Add to that a packed lame-duck session and the Dream Act—which would give kids brought to the U.S. illegally by parents before the age of 16 a path to citizenship if they agree to go to college for two years or join military service—may come up for a vote, but there is no guarantee it will pass.