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Youngest DREAMers Need Not Apply: The Other Troubling Part of Marco Rubio’s DACA Comments

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Lynn Tramonte: “Senator Rubio has Sunk to a New Low; Pro-Immigration Voters Will Certainly Remember”

A number of leading observers reported on the significance of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s statement yesterday that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as President, regardless of whether Congress has passed immigration legislation.  As Suzanne Gamboa reported for NBC News, “Many shielded from deportation through the program were brought to the U.S. by parents as very young children and have grown up in the United States.  They often are referred to as Dreamers, after legislation first proposed more than a decade ago that would have put them on a road to citizenship but that Congress has never approved.  More than 700,000 young immigrants have DACA, which they must renew, and are allowed to work.  The latest DACA deferrals expire in 2017.”

As we noted yesterday, Rubio’s comments came after several days of criticism from Donald Trump and right-wing media on the subject – another example of the “Trump Effect” at work.  As Erica Werner reported for the Associated Press, the immigration backtracking of both Rubio and new House Speaker Paul Ryan have come, “against the backdrop of a presidential campaign that’s been dominated by Trump, who’s said immigrants who come here illegally are ‘rapists’ bringing drugs and crime.  Such pronouncements have pushed the GOP to the right, even as some leading Republicans insist they need a nominee who will embrace immigration legislation and win back some of the Latino and Asian voters who’ve been abandoning the party.”

While his comments are further confirmation of Rubio’s decision to appeal to hardline anti-immigrant primary voters at the expense of general election voters and sensible policy, one aspect of Rubio’s remarks have been mostly overlooked.  Not only did Rubio confirm that he would end DACA if elected President, but he also called for an end to new applications under the Obama Administration.  Rubio said:

“…I’ve already said that we shouldn’t be signing up new people to the program, we should stop new enrollment, this program’s now been around for three years, if you haven’t signed up by now…we’re not going to extend the program.  DACA’s going to end…”

Given that youth are not eligible to apply for DACA until they turn 15 years of age, Rubio is targeting the youngest contingent of DREAMers in a way that cannot and must not be overlooked.   

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “On immigration, this Republican primary battle is a race to the bottom and Senator Rubio has sunk to a new low.  He’s talking about kids who came here in diapers—kids that he thinks should no longer be able to apply for DACA.  Without DACA, they’re subject to deportation.  If Rubio survives the primary, pro-immigration voters will certainly remember what he said about these immigrant youth.”