Earlier this week, The Hill newspaper reported that Senate Republicans, led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), are pursuing an alternative, stripped down version of the DREAM Act in an attempt to improve the Party’s standing with Latino voters. Among the likely provisions in the Republicans’ version is a path to legalization that stops short of providing citizenship to young people who would qualify for the legislation. Today, in an editorial entitled “A DREAM Act Without the Dream,” the New York Times tears apart the emerging Republican legislation, helping to place this transparently political maneuver into the GOP’s larger hardline immigration context and chiding Republicans for not doing the sensible thing – returning to their roots and passing the actual, traditionally bipartisan DREAM Act.
Writes the Times: “Republican politicians have overwhelmingly embraced an approach to immigration reform that offers only misery, arrest and punishment to the undocumented. That is popular with party’s hard-right base, but toxic with Hispanic voters — which has led some Republicans to come up with proposals that seem to shimmer with promise but lead to the same no-future dead end.
“Take Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has recently been floating his stripped-down version of the Dream Act, a bill to legalize young unauthorized immigrants — Americans in all but name — who serve in the military or go to college. Mr. Rubio’s idea to make it palatable to his party is to offer them legalization without citizenship…This idea is nothing more than some newly invented third-class status — not illegal, but not American.
“It’s the Dream Act without the dream and should be dismissed out of hand, along with similar half-measures embraced by Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential candidates, who endorse legalization for military service but not college, and not citizenship in any case…The only Dream Act worth passing is simple. It tells high schoolers who want to make something of themselves, for the good of the country, to go ahead. Join the military or go to college and take your place as full-fledged citizens in the only country you know. That Republicans reject this shows how far they have strayed from American ideals of assimilation and welcome.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Instead of looking to institutionalize a separate class of Americans, Republicans that want to demonstrate a newfound seriousness about the plight of kids who are Americans in all but paperwork should stand up to Lamar Smith and other hardliners and once again embrace the traditionally bipartisan DREAM Act. Keep in mind, the DREAM Act that came five Senate votes short of passage in December 2010 was itself a compromise and a narrower version than the original legislation proposed by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Sadly, 10 Republican senators who had previously voted for some version of the DREAM Act voted against it in the heartbreakingly close 2010 vote. Is it any wonder that Latino voters view the GOP as toxic and the Party’s motivations with suspicion?”