Republican elected officials, including Florida’s own U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, are working on a “conservative Republican alternative” to the DREAM Act, in an effort to reach out to Latino voters before the November presidential election. The Congressional newspaper The Hill reported earlier this week that Rubio had no “specifics to announce yet” about his alternative DREAM Act. “This stuff has to be done responsibly. We’re working toward that,” Rubio told the paper. He calls it a bipartisan solution that “does not reward or encourage illegal immigration by granting amnesty, but helps accommodate talented young people like Daniela Pelaez (the Miami high school valedictorian who was at risk of being deported), who find themselves undocumented through no fault of their own.” Representative David River (R-Miami), who also met with young Ms. Pelaez during the community protest made in an effort to prevent her deportation, announced he would file the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act (the S.T.A.R.S. Act), which would allow undocumented immigrant youth who meet certain criteria to adjust their residency status.
Marco Rubio endorsed presidential candidate Mitt Romney this week, and as many others in the GOP, is trying to “get his ear” on immigration, but is this goal even attainable considering Romney has chosen Kris Kobach as his immigrant advisor? Kobach, the Kansas secretary of State, co-authored the hard-line Arizona and Alabama immigration enforcement laws. He said at the Conservative Political Action Conference panel earlier this year that the government should enforce programs like E-Verify, a federal workforce authorization program. He also expressed utter disbelief saying that he never imagined the Department of Justice would sue states for their immigration laws. But the infamous phrase Kobach coined is one that really sums up his immigration views: “If you want to create a job for an American citizen tomorrow, deport an illegal alien today.” If this is the kind of advice Mr. Romney wishes to have whispered in his ear then we are concerned with the nature of the impact it will have on his immigration policy if he were to become president. For all of these reasons, it would be far better for Rubio to gain the upper hand and earn Romney’s respect so that he wouldn’t depend solely on the advice of Kobach given his extremist views that are disconnected with a country that is significantly composed of immigrants. Regardless, Romney trails far behind Obama with Latino voters. According to The Hill, “Republicans recognize they need to improve their image among Hispanic voters.” There are very few GOP elected officials and strategists who actually make it a point to reach out to Latino voters. This is one of the reasons why progressive organizations have launched the Wrong Way Rubio campaign. They are “dedicated to shining a spotlight on Sen. Rubio’s extremist positions, and numerous ethical lapses,” with the aim of having him change his course on immigration to a more friendly one. Needless to say, however, Rubio is of immigrant descent and—though his motives may be political—the fact that he is working on a piece of legislation that would benefit immigrants on some level is commendable.