President Obama told a largely Hispanic audience today that he is ready to sign the DREAM Act and blamed Republicans for the failure of the legislation that would grant illegal immigrant students a path to citizenship.
"We're going to keep fighting for this common-sense reform - not just because hundreds of thousands of talented young students depend on it, but because ultimately America depends on it," the president said at the annual Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House. "'No' is not an option. I want to sign the DREAM Act into law. I've got the pens all ready. I'm willing to work with anybody who is serious to get this done, and to achieve bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that solves this challenge once and for all."
Today's election-year celebration comes as the president courts Latino voters in the run-up to November.
"We know that securing our future depends on making sure that all Americans have the opportunity to reach their potential. And that's why we've worked hard over the last three and a half years to create jobs; to make sure you get the care you need when you get sick; to make college affordable for everybody; to ensure that no matter where you are, where you come from, what you look like, what your last name is - even if it's Obama- you can make it if you try," the president said to applause.
In his brief remarks, Obama welcomed everyone to celebrate the "tres de Mayo" at this year's party. The president will spend the real Cinco de Mayo this Saturday campaigning in Ohio and Virginia. "We just like to get the fiesta started early around here," he joked.
This year's "fiesta" included dance performances by Georgetown University's Ballet Folklórico and traditional Mexican music. Guests mingled in the Rose Garden, sipping champagne and, of course, margaritas.