Rubio’s ‘conservative DREAM Act’ draws instant backlash

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (Pic by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr)

Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent proposal to offer a “conservative-Republican alternative” to the DREAM Act continues to draw criticism from media outlets that say it could result in “a half-measure that produces only a different sort of legal limbo” for immigrants.

GOP elected officials, including Rubio, say they’re working on the legislation in an effort to reach out to Latino voters before the November presidential election.

The DREAM Act, which was first introduced in Congress 10 years ago, would grant those who entered the U.S. illegally before the age of 16 conditional permanent resident status for a period of six years, after which they would be eligible to become legal permanent residents if they obtain at least an associate-level college degree or serve in the military for two years.

Eric Liu, author and former Clinton policy adviser, writes in Time magazine that “in recent days this son of Cuban immigrants has been floating an immigration proposal that would unabashedly create a two-tiered system of Americans: real and not real.”

“Rubio’s idea is a response to the DREAM Act, which once had bipartisan support but is now toxic to a GOP base that’s become rabidly restrictionist,” Liu adds.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who supports the DREAM Act, wrote Monday in the Huffington Post that a proposal backed by Rubio “would allow certain young people to eventually earn legal status by attending certain four-year colleges or serving in the U.S. military,” but “would bar these young people raised in the United States from ever becoming citizens.”

In an editorial published Monday, Bloomberg News wrote that Republicans “have some catching up to do. After failing to support President George W. Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans voted most recently in 2010 to kill the Dream Act”:

An insincere approach to the Dream Act, however, runs the risk of backfiring. In interviews, Rubio has been unclear about what he’s hatching for Dream-age illegal immigrants (those under 35 who entered the U.S. before age 16 and have spent at least 5 years here), saying he wants “a visa process that legalizes them and wouldn’t prohibit them in the future from accessing the citizenship process, but it wouldn’t give them a pathway to it specially carved out.” … A half-measure that produces only a different sort of legal limbo will not do these young people much good. Nor is it likely to solve the Republicans’ electoral problem.

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