As we had informed our readers earlier, Florida’s own United States Senator, Marco Rubio, is working on an alternative to the Dream Act. This version, which is presumed to be more in line with conservative beliefs, attempts to sidestep the controversial legalization issue by arguing that Congress can give undocumented youth “nonimmigrant” legal status and then let them find their own path to citizenship. The Washington Post commented on his proposal and noted that it promotes a “permanent second-class status” for immigrants. Rubio speaks about having every immigrant be “treated like everyone else” and have “no special treatment” yet his characterization of the problem seems to be shallow in that it does not get at the fundamental problem by affording citizenship but merely seeks to tackle it on a superficial level that in the end only postpones the ultimate reality: that our immigration system is broken and the avenues for attaining legal status are practically impossible and unattainable.
Because there is not exactly a simple way to become a lawful permanent resident, young people often find themselves in a dead-end status that ultimately limits their rights and opportunities. While there are some visas that allow individuals to live and work in the U.S. for extended periods of time, these confer them “nonimmigrant” status, which assumes that these individuals are not planning on settling their lives here and making this country their homes. For that reason, those who seek the protection of the Dream Act are the opposite of “nonimmigrants” and would not qualify under such category since they have spent the majority of their lives here and want to continue to call this their home.
Therefore, Senator Rubio’s proposal subverts the unique characteristics of the Dream Act by ignoring the fundamental reason why this bill has become indispensable. As it is, the immigration system already has such trouble keeping up with demand that adding onto it all those youth who would qualify for the Dream Act would clog and possibly cause a systems collapse. There are countless other problems that come with a system that sidesteps permanent legal status, with a plethora of questions revolving around the expiration of the visas, renewals, costs, work authorizations, and many others of the sort.
However, these details that are essential for a bill to work properly are not being adequately considered by Rubio in his concoction of a bill. While surely, the bill would free these youths from the threat of deportation—which is a major feat in its own right—it would not however, offer proper long-term remedy to their problem. If Rubio’s bill would win the upper hand and pass into law instead of the Dream Act, Congress would, in effect, be institutionalizing a kind of legal limbo and second-class citizenship that is definitely not in the best interest of our nation.