Rubio Working on GOP Version of DREAM Act to Let Younger Illegal Aliens Stay Legally In U.S.

Edwin Mora | April 3, 2012 | 7:17pm EDT
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)( Starr)

( - Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says he is working to craft an alternative version of the DREAM Act that would allow younger illegal aliens who came to the United States "through no fault of their own" to stay here legally and, if they wished, get in line to become a citizen.

"There is nothing that prohibits them from getting citizenship,” Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times in an April 3 interview in which he explained his plan.  “We just don't create a new pathway. The bottom line is they would have a visa of some sort and like they and 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,” Rubio said. “We have a broken legal immigration system. Someone would say, 'Well it's going to take them forever to get residency.' Well, that's true of anybody. The system has to be modernized but that's a separate topic. It doesn't create a pathway to citizenship directly but doesn't prohibit them from entering the regular pathway."

As it currently stands, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, commonly known as the DREAM ACT, which was first introduced a decade ago, 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 obtain an associate-level academic degree or serve in the U.S. military for two years.

The DREAM Act, while first introduced in 2001, has never had the support in Congress to become law.

In an April 1 interview with liberal commentator Juan Williams on Fox News Latino, Rubio said he does not support the DREAM Act as currently drafted. But he said he would sponsor a proposal that incorporates the “idea” of helping young illegal immigrants by providing them with a special visa to allow them to stay in the country legally while waiting in line to get citizenship.

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Rubio has not yet published a specific proposal of his “idea” and has only provided broad details of what the alternative DREAM Act would entail.

“I support the idea behind the DREAM Act, which is to help these young kids. I don’t support the DREAM Act as currently drafted because it allows for chain migration, because it creates a pathway to citizenship that can potentially encourage illegal immigration in the future,” Rubio told Williams.

“I do support, and I have consistently supported, even during my campaign, I’ve supported the notion that we need to accommodate these kids that, through no fault of their own, find themselves in this legal limbo," he said.  "But we have to do it the right way. And so I’m actively engaged in working with my colleagues, and with outside groups, and with anyone who would work with me to craft a solution that helps deal with this issue, but doesn’t do it in a counter-productive way.”

“We should figure out a way to accommodate and there are ways to do that and we’re actively working on ways to do that, that gets us to 60 votes, whether it’s a visa process that legalizes them and,” he said, “wouldn’t’ prohibit them in the future from accessing the citizenship process, but it wouldn’t give them a pathway to it especially carved out.”

Referring to Democrats during the Fox News Latino interview, Rubio also said, “What I have found, unfortunately, in my time here in Washington is that this is a very powerful issue and that, in fact, there are those that maybe don’t want to solve this and would like to leave it there so they can use it in the elections.”

On March 27, The Hill reported that Texas Republican Sens. Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchison “are also working on a bill, although its details are being kept secret, according to congressional sources. Senate sources expect it to be unveiled after GOP front-runner Mitt Romney has clinched the presidential nomination.”

According to a recent poll by Fox News Latino and Latin Insights, 90 percent of “likely Latino voters” support the DREAM Act as currently written with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

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

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