President Obama tells Hispanic caucus he won't give up on immigration bill

President Obama told representatives of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Tuesday that he is not giving up on an immigration bill the group has long championed. 

The president reiterated his support for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform during his sit-down with five members of the caucus.

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Obama and the lawmakers "discussed their deep disappointment with the DREAM Act failing in the U.S. Senate" and the president promised "that he will not give up on the DREAM Act, and thanked the members for their tireless leadership on this issue," according to a readout of the meeting.

The huddle with Hispanic members of Congress was intended to plan a way forward for immigration reform in the next Congress, when Republicans will hold a majority in the House and a more robust minority in the Senate. 

Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Vice Chairman Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) attended the meeting Tuesday morning with Obama.

The meeting came after the collapse of the DREAM Act, a bill conditionally offering legal residency to children who entered the U.S. illegally. Enough votes did not exist in the Senate to invoke cloture, which would require the support of 60 senators, when the upper chamber voted this weekend. 

Conservative groups and most Republicans have derided the measure as amnesty legislation, but defeated Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) indicated the GOP could move forward on its own version of the legislation next year.

Gutierrez indicated that with Republicans having more power next year, Obama will likely have to play more "defense" when it comes to immigration issues.

"With the Republicans taking over in the House, whose leaders are strongly opposed to immigration and immigration reform, we will likely be playing a great deal of defense for the next two years," he said in a statement. "Obviously, the president's veto pen is a crucial weapon against radically anti-immigrant policies."

During the meeting, Obama also "further reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, pointing out that we can no longer perpetuate a broken immigration system that is not working for our country or our economy," saying the issue should remain a "top priority" in the next Congress.

Congress last tried, and failed, to pass comprehensive immigration reform under President Bush in 2007.

-- This post was updated at 2:58 p.m.

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