Can Marco Rubio get his mini-Dream Act thru his own party?

Rubio's proposed legislation would allow people brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal status, but not citizenship, if they enroll in college or the military.


Speaking with CNN's Candy Crowley on State of the Union,
Rubio began talking about the issue of immigration the way he always does, which is to say that the Republicans haven't done a good enough job talking about what they're for, which is legal immigration.


But Crowley called him out on that immediately, saying essentially, 'Who doesn't?'.


RUBIO: It does matter how you talk about the issue. It starts by recognizing that the vast majority of people who are in this country illegally didn't come here to steal from the American government. They are in search of jobs and opportunity. They are doing what most people would do if their children were hungry and their family were suffering.


And that is just about anything you have to do in order to provide for your family. You go down to Homestead, Florida, here and you talk to migrant workers that may be here without documents. They would tell you they wish there was a functional guest worker program, and that the reason why they can't return to their country is they're afraid they won't be able to come back next year when they're needed.


CROWLEY: But honestly they haven't been talking about guest worker programs really so much as they have been talking about fences and in-state tuition being denied to the children of illegals who, as you note in your bill that you're working on, had absolutely ? you know, very little choice in coming here. Is that a sustainable position?


RUBIO: Well, again, you have to have immigration laws. And they have to be enforced. That doesn't mean that because you support the laws that you don't recognize the humanitarian aspects of the immigration problem.


For example, the case of the children that you have just outlined to me is very real. We have a case here in Florida of a young woman who came when she was 4 years old. Here name is Daniela Pelaez. She's the valedictorian of her high school this year. She has a 6.8 GPA. She has been admitted to Dartmouth as a ? to study molecular biology. And she has a deportation order. And the vast majority of Americans would tell you it just doesn't feel right to deport a valedictorian who is here in an undocumented status through no fault of her own. CROWLEY: Your plan that you're working on, as I understand it, suggests that these children of illegal immigrants that were brought here illegally could ? if they went to college and got a degree or to a vocational school and finished those courses, could achieve legal status, correct?


RUBIO: Right.


CROWLEY: Not necessarily citizenship. Although they could go on and get citizenship in the regular order of things, correct?


RUBIO: It allows you to get an immigrant visa through one of the existing visa programs.


CROWLEY: But you could stay in the country...


RUBIO: While you're waiting, that's right.


CROWLEY: ... while you're waiting for your non-immigrant status as well as for U.S. citizenship, correct?


RUBIO: Right.


Mitt Romney told told attendees at a closed-door fundraiser last week that he supports Rubio's plan. But will the rest of the rank and file GOP, who have shown no inclination to tone down the harsh rhetoric on the issue, follow suit?


One conservative blogger, Debbie Schlussel, has blasted the Rubio proposal, labeling it as giving "amnesty to illegal alien Muslim extremists."


Rubio?s plan will give legal status to illegal aliens brought here as children, if they enroll in college or the military. But that would give plenty of illegal aliens permission to remain here. Plenty of dangerous illegal aliens, including the illegal alien children of Muslims who come here. Plenty of them go to college. It doesn?t mean they hate America or love jihad any less than they already do. We don?t need to give them ?legal status? or in-state tuition or anything else. We need to deport them. And note that you haven?t heard Mitt Romney?who claims he?ll be tough on illegal aliens and whom Rubio endorsed?saying he?s against the Rubio pipe DREAM Act. And that?s because Romney is behind this nod and wink toward illegal aliens. Rubio is doing Etchy-Sketchy (with emphasis on the Sketchy part) Romney?s Hispanic outreach with this.


Let it be declared that Schlussel is definitely on the far right extreme of a conservative Republican party. More accepting of the proposal is Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation of small business owners working for better immigration law. In an op-ed she wrote in the L.A. Times last week she wrote the legislation is good for Republicans and good for Mitt Romney:


This is a thoughtful compromise, and I can see why it appeals to Romney ? it's consistent with the best of Republican values. These young people have committed no crime ? their parents brought them to the U.S. involuntarily. Dream 2.0 would encourage assimilation. It would reward individual achievement and service ? attending college and enlisting in the military. It would make all the difference for the young people who benefit. And it would be a boon for America ? surely it's better for the nation if these promising young people make the most of their potential.


So what's standing in the way? Politics, of course. But not the politics you'd expect. This time around, the problem is more Democrats than Republicans. Many Democrats don't want Republicans to get out ahead with new ideas about immigration. That would shatter the myth that Democrats and their allies have been perpetuating for years now: that they're the good guys who care about immigrants and we Republicans are the villains, blocking reform for racist reasons. It's no accident that Reid, Dream Act champion Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and the New York Times editorial page have denounced Rubio's Dream Act. It gives the lie to their myth.


But a New York City attorney named Raul Reyes strongly disagrees. In an op-ed in the L.A. Times, Reyes responds to Jacoby's editorial by stating that Rubio' s plan is a "divisive ploy to pander to Latinos. It is a faulty compromise at best ? and a nightmare at worst."

On NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday, New York Times columnist David Brooks said Marco Rubio is no longer being considered a serious contender to be Mitt Romney's running mate later this year, saying that is "the conventional wisdom among Republican donors and Washington officialdom."

Regardless whether that's true or not, the 40-year-old freshman U.S. Senator from Florida will continue to be prominently featured in the news this election year, and not just because of his upcoming memoir (as well as a biography written by a D.C. journalist coming out on him this summer). On Sunday he told CNN he's not only not thinking of becoming VP, but he may never run for president, despite the hype.

Trying to make some movement on the stale topic of immigration reform, Rubio has recently introduced his own watered-down version of the Dream Act, the legislation that would give in-state tuition rates, college scholarships and ultimately full citizenship to undocumented high school students in the U.S. Such federal legislation narrowly went down to defeat in the U.S. Senate in December of 2010, and Mitt Romney has said he does not support reviving it (Romney won't even support Rubio's plan).

Then again, Romney has been unrelentingly hostile on all issues regarding immigration this campaign cycle, leading Rubio to lightly criticize his party as not being positive enough when taking about Hispanic issues, since that demographic is the fastest growing one in the American electorate.

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