With G.O.P.’s Ear, Rubio Pushes Dream Act Proposal
MIAMI — When Senator Marco Rubio first floated his compromise version of the Dream Act — the bill, now stalled, that would grant some students in the United States illegally a path to citizenship — the chances of reviving the politically charged issue in Congress seemed as dim as the chances of snuffing out attack ads on the campaign trail.
On Thursday, Speaker John A. Boehner said as much, calling it “difficult at best” to take up the issue in the House, where Republicans are pushing for greater border security, not more forgiving laws. But Mr. Boehner did not close the door, saying “there is always hope” and adding that Mr. Rubio had spoken to him about his proposal.
“I found it of interest,” Mr. Boehner said. “But the problem with this issue is that we are operating in a very hostile political environment.”
Recognizing that his proposal was never going to be an easy sell for either Republicans or Democrats, Mr. Rubio said in an interview this week that he was moving forward with his plan to give students a chance to study and work here legally, albeit temporarily. The senator said he and his staff had been speaking with Democrats, conservative Republicans in and out of Congress, immigration advocates and the students themselves.
The plan seeks to assuage concerns on all sides, Mr. Rubio added; it cannot serve as a lure to illegal immigrants but must offer eligible students genuine relief.
“I don’t want to be unrealistically optimistic about it,” he said, but added, “I have not been discouraged by anybody in my party.”
The compromise would grant students who are the children of illegal immigrants a new kind of nonimmigrant visa that would let them live in this country legally for a period of time. They could work, drive and pay taxes. He would also grant nonimmigrant visas to the graduates of colleges and trade schools, enabling them to stay here and work.
The proposal would not grant them green cards, giving them permanent residency, which sets it apart from the original Dream Act. With their nonimmigrant visas, they could seek green cards in the traditional way, either through marriage, family or an employer. But they could remain in this country legally during that process.