Collins said she would have supported the bill the last time it came up on the Senate floor in 2010 if provisions requiring that eligible young people stay out of legal trouble had been stronger.
Obama reiterated his commitment to the DREAM Act during his press conference.
“The one thing I’m very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag, want to serve in our military, want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn’t be under the cloud of deportation,” he said. “That we should give them every opportunity to earn their citizenship.”
But the willingness of a growing number of Senate Republicans to address long-standing immigration problems does not make it easier to reach a consensus on Capitol Hill. A critical point of contention remains whether to grant a path to citizenship to all of the 11 million people who live in the United States illegally.
Many Democrats want granting citizenship to be part of a comprehensive overhaul.
Republicans were less willing this week to stake out specific policy positions but said that anything that would grant citizenship to undocumented people would be a difficult sell in the party.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., suggested Wednesday that he would not support granting citizenship. He hedged when asked whether he would back legalizing the status of the undocumented without necessarily granting them citizenship.
Even if the Senate is able to hash out a compromise, there is no guarantee the House will endorse it.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said last week that he would favor a “step by step” approach to overhauling immigration laws, an indication that he is not willing to go along with the Senate Democrats’ strategy of introducing a single sweeping piece of legislation. And it remains to be seen whether conservatives in Boehner’s caucus will go along with his approach.
Still, despite the difficulties that are sure to arise in the months ahead as Congress begins work on an immigration overhaul, Senate Democrats are refusing to retreat from their postelection optimism.
“No one expects John Boehner to do a 180-degree about face in 24 or 48 hours, so the fact that he seems to be moving a little bit in the right direction is a good thing, and I’m positive about it,” Schumer said.
Niels Lesniewski and Emily Ethridge contributed to this report.