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Hey Marco Rubio: Where's the Bill?

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As the media buzz around Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and his impending “DREAM Act lite” continues, important questions remain about what the bill will look like and what its legislative chances will be.

As Alex Leary writes today in the Tampa Bay Times of the impending Rubio bill:

It’s one of the most hyped bills on Capitol Hill, and it doesn’t even exist.  Three months after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio revealed he was working on an alternative to the Dream Act, triggering a gusher of positive news coverage, he has yet to produce a written proposal.  The delay is raising expectations but also underscores the political challenge facing the Florida Republican and could elevate cynicism that it is an election-year effort to win Hispanic votes.

The “political challenge” Leary is referring to involves how, among other things, presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has pledged to veto the DREAM Act and embraced the Kris Kobach model of immigration policy while showing no inclination of supporting Rubio’s legislation.  Furthermore, Republican immigration policy is currently driven and controlled by anti-immigrant lawmakers such as Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who are already throwing cold water on potential Republican alternatives to the DREAM Act.

As Steve King told Fox News Latino, “They would have a hard time getting [the bills] through the [House] Judiciary Committee,” noting that Rep. Lamar Smith chairs the committee and is adamantly opposed to even watered-down versions of the DREAM Act.  King’s objection to these bills?  “It’s not our moral obligation to make up for the poor decision to bring them illegally from their countries,” he said, adding that providing protections to these young people who grew up in America would be “rewarding [the parents] with the objective of their crime.”

In the face of pessimism about legislative prospects, DREAM Act-eligible youth are continuing to make their presence known.  This week’s issue of Time Magazine features DREAM movement leaders on the cover, and includes additional videos and articles featuring these leaders discussing their plight, underscoring why providing opportunities for them to contribute back to the nation they call home should be a no-brainer.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

We’ve yet to see the policy details of Rubio’s impending bill and, perhaps more critically, we’ve yet to hear a description of what a realistic path forward would be to advance the legislation through the anti-immigrant bottlenecks in the Republican Party.  While we welcome Senator Rubio’s contributions to this important debate, it’s hard to see how his bill makes it into law.  Unless and until the Republican Party is capable of confronting the anti-immigrant leaders in their midst, the only viable way of ensuring DREAMer protection is through executive action.