President Obama reminded Democratic donors that “our future rests” on the success of people brought to the United States illegally as children, who would qualify for citizenship if Congress had passed the DREAM Act.
“About 30 to 40 percent of the kids in this school, by the way, are DREAM kids,” Obama said Wednesday evening. “You wouldn’t know it looking at them, because they are as American as apple pie. But every single one of these kids, you might not be able to tell the difference, but a whole bunch of them — they’re worried about whether or not they’re going to be able to finance their college education of their immigrant status. They’re worried about whether, in fact, this country that they love so deeply loves them back and understands that our future rests on their success. Why wouldn’t we want to give them that certainty that you are part of the fabric of this nation, we’re counting on you, and we’re going to make sure you succeed? Why wouldn’t we want to do that?”
Obama made the comments at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in Massachusetts, in reference to students at Worcester Tech. “So these young people are graduating, ready to go to college, but also certified nurses, EMT folks. Many of them are choosing to join the military and will contribute to our country in this way,” he said. “And looking out as I was speaking to them and then shaking their hands, and giving them hugs and high-fives and all the things that kids do on a graduation, I thought to myself: How could we not want to invest in these kids?”
Vice President Joe Biden also said Wednesday that increasing immigration would boost the economy, though he extended the argument beyond the DREAM Act kids.
“We need it badly from a purely — purely economic point of view,” Biden said Tuesday, per The Hill. It’s an argument that corporations tend to support, but the White House push comes as Congress is still coming to terms with the shock of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) losing his primary to Dave Brat, a political novice supported by local Tea Party activists who faulted Cantor for being out of touch with the district.
Cantor’s support for DREAM Act-style legislation, which he announced a few months after the 2012 election, inspired conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to rally grassroots voters against him.
“Now, Ingraham is setting her sights on 2016: In particular, she wants to ensure that the Republican nominee is not cut from Cantor’s cloth,” National Review Online’s Eliana Johnson reported. “Brat’s victory, she says, is a step in the right direction: ‘Everybody that’s hoping and praying for a Jeb Bush run, they should spend a lot of time focusing on what just happened in Virginia.’”
Obama’s team is pushing back against the idea that immigration sank Cantor. “Cantor’s problem wasn’t his position on immigration reform, it was his lack of a position,” Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer tweeted on election night, citing the success of Senator Lindsay Graham (R., S.C.). “Graham wrote and passed a bill and is winning big.”