Romney Shows ‘Openness’ to Rubio's DREAM Act, Says Rubio's Spokesman

May 4, 2012 - 9:56 AM

Rubio-Romney

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) listens as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a news conference prior to a town hall-style meeting in Aston, Pa., Monday, April 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(CNSNews.com) – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has shown “openness” to the modified DREAM Act proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Rubio spokesman told CNSNews.com.

“I think there’s been a lot of openness on all sides to work on Sen. Rubio’s ideas,” spokesman Alex Burgos said.

“Now, you know it’s important to note that we haven’t finalized any legislation. We’re still working on a lot of the details, and so it’s to be expected that people would want to see the final product before taking a firm position on it, but you know everyone from folks like Sen. [Dick] Durbin [D-Ill.] to future president Romney have indicated openness to it, and we think that’s a good sign.”

The offices of Senate Majority Whip Durbin and Romney did not answer CNSNews.com's requests to comment on Rubio’s plan.

However, on April 23, Romney said he was “taking a look” at Rubio’s proposal. “It has many features to commend it. But it’s something that we’re studying.”  (Rubio has been mentioned as a possible Romney running mate.)

Also, in an April 18 op-ed in The Washington Post, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who says he's advised Romney on immigration, is quoted as saying, "I haven’t seen the details of Senator Rubio’s plan, but if it involves the giving of lawful status to illegal aliens en masse then it is unacceptable." He later added, "A path to legal status for someone who is here illegally is amnesty by definition. It gives the alien what he has stolen.”

When asked about Romney possibly supporting Rubio's approach, Kobach said, “I don’t think so...I expect him to hold firm on his opposition to amnesty.”

Before Rubio announced he was working on a plan, Romney said on New Year’s Eve 2011 that he would veto the Democrats’ DREAM ACT. However, Romney also said he would support granting legal permanent residency to young illegal immigrants in exchange for military service.

As proposed by Sen. Durbin and other Democrats, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would grant conditional permanent resident status for a period of six years to those who came into the United States illegally before the age of 16. After the six-year period, those eligible would be able to attain legal permanent status if they get an associate-level academic degree or serve in the U.S. military for two years. As legal permanent residents, they would then have an automatic pathway to citizenship.

Although he has not released specific legislative language detailing his modified DREAM Act, Rubio’s proposal would let some people currently residing in the U.S. obtain a special visa that allows them to remain in the country while applying for legal residency status. Legal residency status would not prevent immigrants from attaining citizenship, but it does not provide a direct pathway to it, either.

The current DREAM Act, the one that the Democrats have proposed, creates a fourth pathway to citizenship in addition to the existing pathways, Burgos told CNSNews.com.

In an April 3 interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Sen. Rubio said about his plan, "There is nothing that prohibits them from getting citizenship. We just don't create a new pathway. The bottom line is, they would have a visa of some sort and they – like any other visa holder in this country -- can get in line and apply for residency. You have to wait in line, but you get to wait in line in the U.S. legally. They would be here living, studying, working, while they're waiting in line.”

On April 26, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that he found Rubio’s DREAM Act “of interest” and although there is “hope” for passage, doing so would be “difficult” in the current “hostile political environment.”

Some Democrats in Congress have welcomed Rubio’s modified DREAM Act while others have not.

On April 26, Roll Call quoted Sen. Durbin as saying, “I am assuming that he is approaching this in good faith, and I believe he wants to help. So I am open to any bipartisan effort.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, during a phone interview with CNSNews.com, said that he first wants to see legislative language detailing the modified DREAM Act before making a decision on whether or not to support the Florida senator's proposal. Nevertheless, the top Democrat on the House border security subcommittee, praised Rubio for his idea.

“I do want to thank Sen. Rubio for at least talking about it because, as you know, most Republicans won’t even talk about it,” Rep. Cuellar told CNSNews.com.

“I’ll be willing to work with anybody, including him [Sen. Rubio] who is willing to talk -- and talk about a DREAM Act, and the DREAM Act is just one portion. I think eventually we’ve got to look at full comprehensive reform,” he added.

The office of Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, did not answer requests for comment on Rubio’s DREAM Act. Neither did the office of Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

In an April 26 statement, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, said, “Senator Rubio should be commended for trying to advance the conversation, but he is likely to find his party unwilling to abandon its hardline, anti-immigrant stance.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, “I’m going to do everything in my power to stop a watered-down version of the DREAM Act. That’s what they’re pushing now,” The Hill reported on March 27.

At a Cinco De  Mayo reception at the White House Wednesday evening, President Obama said "there is still plenty of unfinished business" when it comes to fixing the nation's "broken immigration system."

"And it is long past the time that we unleash the promise of all our young people and make the DREAM Act a reality," Obama said to applause.

The Democrats' DREAM Act passed the House last year, but it failed in the Senate. Obama called it unfortunate that some Republicans "got together and blocked it."

The president said he would "keep fighting for this common-sense reform."

“'No' is not an option. I want to sign the DREAM Act into law. I’ve got the pens all ready," Obama said. "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."

Although President Obama hasn't mentioned Rubio's plan by name, he apparently referred to it in an April 13 interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo:

"This notion that somehow Republicans want to have it both ways — they want to vote against these laws and appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment ... and then they come and say, 'But we really care about these kids and we want to do something about it' — that looks like hypocrisy to me."

Obama's top advisers reportedly have said the Rubio plan it doesn't go far enough and isn't likely to succeed.