President Obama is set to meet with a group of young undocumented immigrants on Wednesday as the White House escalates its fight with Republicans over immigration reform and funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
The House GOP has passed legislation that would extend funding for DHS beyond the end of February, when it is set to expire, through the fiscal year. But the measure stipulates that the administration cannot use any of the money for Obama's executive actions to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation.
The White House has threatened to veto the measure, and it failed to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate on Tuesday. Meantime, the Obama administration has ramped up calls on Congress to approve a clean funding bill for the department that does not attempt to roll back the president's immigration measures.
The five immigrants, known as "dreamers," who will meet with the president in the Oval Office have received protections from deportation under a program Obama implemented in 2012. Among them are two from the Washington area: Jean Yannick Diouf of Rockville and Bati-amgalan Tsoftsaikhan of Arlington.
In all, more than 600,000 younger immigrants have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
In November, Obama announced plans to expand the program to cover the immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The president said he took the action after a comprehensive bill to reform the nation's immigration laws was blocked by the House last summer.
Obama "will reiterate that his executive actions are lawful and that Republicans’ efforts to reverse his actions will prevent millions of undocumented immigrants from undergoing background checks, make it more difficult for them to pay taxes and would also tear apart millions of immigrant families — many of whom have been living here for decades," the White House said.
The others who will attend the meeting are Steven Arteaga of Houston; Blanca Gamez of Las Vegas; Maria Praeli of Hamden, Conn.; Rishi Singh of South Ozone Park, N.Y.