Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is trying to craft a more GOP-friendly version of the DREAM Act. The original Democratic iteration, which has stalled in Congress, was billed as an attempt to prevent the deportation of people whose parents brought them to the country illegally as children if they enlisted in the military or pursued certain educational opportunities. DREAM contained loopholes that could have turned it into a much broader-based amnesty.
Rubio says he can formulate a DREAM proposal that will pass the “Kris Kobach test.” Kobach is a Mitt Romney adviser who opposes amnesty and helped design laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 to crack down on illegal immigration. While the details have yet to be fleshed out, here’s how Rubio explains the broad outlines of what he is trying to do:
All it does, it takes something that already exists, which is it takes non-immigrant visas and applies it to children who have grown up in this country, who we spent thousands of dollars educating … [and] allows them to continue to contribute to this country and if they eventually decide they would like to become residents and then thereafter citizens, allow that to do that the same way that anybody else in the world would be able to do it, and that is by accessing the existing route that is now in place.
If successful, Rubio could also help Romney square the circle on immigration. But he does run the risk of proposing something Democrats and Latino activists will oppose without winning the support of immigration restrictionists. I’ve written previously about the fact that Romney’s immigration stance — with an assist from Rubio — didn’t hurt him with Florida Hispanics in this year’s Republican primary.