Rubio Immigration Plan: Reform Piece-by-Piece, Starting with the Kids

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: November 15, 2012 3:55 AM
Marco Rubio Immigration Reform
As Republicans regain their bearings after last week's electoral defeats, and struggle to sell their ideology to a disenfranchised electorate, Florida's junior senator is getting ready to renew an effort that might resonate with the nation's Hispanics: immigration reform.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is drafting his own legislative alternative to the mostly Democrat-backed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which has failed to pass both chambers of Congress. Rubio’s proposal would grant legal status, and eligibility to receive in-state university tuition, to those who illegally immigrated to the United States as minors, have kept out of trouble with the law, and are enrolled in college or the military. But it does not provide an automatic pass to citizenship, the way the DREAM Act does.

There’s just one problem: Rubio’s been floating his idea since April, but hasn’t actually produced a text.

“We’re not going to introduce a bill until we are confident it can gather a bipartisan consensus and be signed by this president,” Alex Conant, Rubio’s press secretary, told Sunshine State News.

Rubio’s proposal, which some have dubbed a “DREAM Act Light,” garnered quite a bit of public attention earlier this year, before it was effectively shelved by President Obama’s June executive order signaling his administration’s resolve not to enforce illegal immigration laws against the very minors who would be covered by DREAM-like legislation.

“We had detailed ideas that we were working out with [Rubio’s Senate] colleagues as well as other stakeholders, including DREAM activists themselves,” Conant tells the News. “We were optimistic that Senator Rubio’s ideas would be turned into legislation and passed. With the president’s executive order, which basically kicked the can down the road for a couple of years, the urgency to pass something this year disappeared.”

Rubio has criticized Obama’s executive order, saying that “by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one.”

The Obama administration insists that the president’s order does not violate the law, but is nothing more sinister than a prudent exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

Conant says Rubio is no fan of comprehensive immigration reform, though he will examine other legislators’ proposals with an open mind.

“Senator Rubio has always said that the best way to tackle immigration reform is not comprehensively, but sequentially,” he tells the News. “Rather than trying to pass everything in one big bill that a lot of people are going to find fault with, you pass things one at a time and find some consensus, starting with measures dealing with the children of illegal immigrants. When we get that done, then we can move on to other problems with our system.”

Rubio has resisted suggestions that he attach other immigration-related measures to his own.

“For example, he has rejected proposals to include border security in his very focused and limited bill,” Conant says. “He does believe we need to secure the borders, but work has been done on that front over the last couple of years.”

Conant says we can expect to see an actual bill “sooner, rather than later,” probably in early 2013.

“These kids still need a permanent solution,” Conant says. “We are cautiously optimistic that the senator’s alternative – which legalizes their status and puts them on the way to the regular legal immigration system, so some day they can seek to become permanent residents and legal citizens just like any other immigrant – will pass Congress.”

Conant told the News that Sen. Rubio has not consulted Florida Gov. Rick Scott or the Florida Legislature for input on his proposed legislation, despite the fact that Florida has one of the largest illegal immigrant populations in the country.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116. 

Comments (5)

Roger Bennett
6:33PM NOV 15TH 2012
Wonder how the TEA PARTY congressman will explain his deviation from their platform? Pandering to the "enemy" is not supposed to be tolerated. A repeat of the Romney brand of "evolving principles" is taking shape for the 2016 Republican Party presidential darling.
8:23AM NOV 15TH 2012
Step 1: Define birthright citizenship as those born to at least one U.S. citizen.
Step 2: Enact a moratorium on all immigration for 5 years while we complete other steps and come up with a more fair and balanced quota system, as well as a sustainable number that can fluctuate with population growth and decline. (Still allowing 250,000 a year for humanitarian and political purposes as well as spouses of citizens.)
Step 3: Require all illegal immigrants to come forward in a one year time frame to be documented so we know what we're dealing with. Documentation should include what kind of work they're doing and how many family members are with them along with their ages etc. And whether or not they want to become citizens or just work here. And perhaps at this step we could allow children who were brought here as minors that become documented to pay instate tuition.
Step 4: Embark on an aggressive policy to immediately deport all illegal immigrants who have not come forward for documentation.

Once those are in place and we know who we have here, how many, and what they're contributing to the U.S. we can decide the next step.
For instance, give some green cards to allow them to work in the U.S. where needed as long as they're needed, ask others to go home to free up their jobs for Americans, and lift the moratorium on legal immigration allowing a certain number a year to apply for citizenship but keeping the bulk of the immigration quota open to those already waiting in line or who have certain skills and education.
Yana Leontiev
9:13PM NOV 15TH 2012
Step 1 would be hard to implement, since it requires changing the 14th amendment of the constitution.
Step 2: This would be very expensive and impossible to implement.
Step 3: This sounds good, but should be at the top of the list, otherwise there would be no action taken and the problem will persist.
Step 4: This sounds fair, all of the people that don't apply will have a criminal background anyway.

And then your ending completely flipped and no longer works. You can't expect someone to come forward if they have a high chance of deportation even after providing all data to prove they were paying taxes and not breaking any laws. We will end back where we started and it will have a high opposition.
7:23AM NOV 16TH 2012
I believe there is some question as to the wording of the 14th Amendment so I'm not so sure it would have to changed as much as defined. But hard or not, it's an important step.

Step 2: How so?

Step 3 and 4: Great, common ground...

Otherwise, I thought my ending was a compromise. If it won't work then we're talking full amnesty and there will also be high opposition.
1:31PM NOV 15TH 2012
"and lift the moratorium on legal immigration allowing a certain number a year to apply for citizenship but keeping the bulk of the immigration quota open to those already waiting in line"

For those who are here illegally and want to apply they can be entered in a lottery like we have for children waiting to get into certain charter schools.

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