From NBC's Athena Jones
Another day, another White House conference call pushing one of their agenda items.
For the second time in two days, White House officials took to the telephone this morning urging Congress to pass the Dream Act. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Cecilia Munoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, President of Regent University Dr. Carlos Campo, UCLA Chancellor Dr. Gene Block, and the President of Miami-Dade College Dr. Eduardo Padron hosted a call Friday in which they argued that passing the bill was important to America's ability to compete in today's global economy.
Locke called the legislation -- which would allow young people who were not responsible for immigrating illegally to this country and who want to go to college or join the military to adjust their immigration status and provide a path to citizenship without fear of deportation -- "critical" to the country's future and said that each year promising high school students are prevented from attending doing so due to their illegal status.
"These are kids that can be our future scientists, our doctors, our military leaders and our educators," Locke said. "Some of them are our future entrepreneurs who will build the next Google or Intel that will generate hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs for our country."
Locke said that over the past 15 years, 25% of venture capital backed companies that eventually went public were started by immigrants.
The Dream Act faces difficult odds in the few weeks before Congress breaks for the holidays, as Democrats and Republicans try to strike deals on pressing issues from funding the government, to ratifying the New START arms treaty with Russia to extending the Bush tax cuts.
"I think some of this discussion about the Dream Act has been so short-sighted and we're failing to see the long-term benefits to our economy," Padron said.
The officials said the Dream Act would would not be a 'giveaway' by any means due to the lengthy process and vigorous background check the legislation would require and to its economic benefits. Munoz said the White House would remain "absolutely engaged" in efforts to get the bill passed and cited a Congressional Budget Office study saying the legislation would generate $2.3 billion of revenue over 10 years and reduce the deficit over the same period.
Thursday, DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano argued passage of the bill would strengthen the U.S. economy and its military and allow the Department of Homeland Security to focus its enforcement resources on removing dangerous criminal aliens from the country.