Congressional Republicans Working on a “Me Too” DREAM Act
Several leading congressional Republicans have signaled that they expect to introduce a Republican alternative to the Democrats’ DREAM Act amnesty bill. The effort is being led by Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Rubio has actively promoted the idea in the media despite the fact that neither he nor his Republican colleagues have introduced a bill, nor has he been willing to provide many details about what might be in a Republican DREAM Act.
In frequent media appearances, Rubio has indicated that the legislation he is preparing would allow illegal aliens who arrived in this country prior to age 16, and who meet certain other criteria, to remain here legally. Rubio repeatedly asserted that his version of the bill would not include a pathway to citizenship, adding cryptically that it “wouldn’t in the future prohibit them from accessing the citizenship process.”
In addition to Rubio, two other GOP senators, Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) — both of whom are retiring at the end of 2012 — are said to be working on their own versions of the DREAM Act. Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) has stated publicly that he plans to introduce similar legislation in the House.
The entire effort appears to be part of an attempt by Republicans to woo Latino voters. According to a mid-April poll by the Pew Research Center, the presumptive Republican nominee, Gov. Mitt Romney, trails President Obama among Latino 67 percent to 27 percent.
It is a strategy, however, that Rubio himself concedes is unlikely to work. In an interview with Juan Williams on Fox News, Rubio noted that the Republicans’ best hope to win Latino votes is to demonstrate that they have a better plan to improve the economy and address other concerns that Latinos place much higher than amnesty for illegal aliens. Moreover, the small segment of the Latino electorate for whom amnesty for illegal aliens is a make-or-break issue, is unlikely to be impressed by a watered down version of the DREAM Act. At the same time, a Republican DREAM Act would likely alienate many other voters who have consistently opposed granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
More importantly, a watered down Republican version of the DREAM Act is still bad public policy and would impose new burdens on American taxpayers and college students, while encouraging more illegal immigration in the future. The result of a DREAM Act, in any form, would mean countless thousands of illegal aliens flooding into already overburdened community colleges around the country in order to fulfill the educational requirements needed to gain some form of legal status. In addition, approval of such legislation would send a clear message to parents around the world to bring their kids to the United States illegally in the expectation that they, too, will eventually be allowed to remain.
It is unclear whether a Republican version of the DREAM Act would even get a vote on the Senate floor. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has championed the Democrats’ version of the DREAM Act, initially indicated that he would not allow a Republican alternative to reach the floor. However, Rubio and his staff have expressed confidence that Reid would allow a Republican bill to be voted on — although that would likely occur only after amendments were offered by Democrats to substantially broaden the amnesty.