Getting the DREAM Act right

by Cesar Vargas | April 4, 2012

In the current environment of politics, riding on the wake of the “Yo Decido” cover of TIME Magazine, both parties are noticeably vying to score points with Latino voters. The Republican party has been relying upon Florida Senator Marco Rubio to provide it Latino representation. With awareness of Mitt Romney’s harsh positions on immigration, especially on the DREAM Act, the party is increasingly looking to Rubio for support. An example of this support was apparent when Romney cited him as a Latino friend during his debate in Arizona to counteract the charge that he’s anti-Latino. Nevertheless, the GOP is paying the price for the Tea Party’s attack on immigrant communities and promotion of anti-immigrant policies.

President Obama leads Mitt Romney 70 percent to 14 percent among likely Latino voters. It is logical for a majority of Latinos to support Democrats since it has been Democrats who led passage of the DREAM Act in the House during the lame duck session, provided support for state dream acts, and have become public opponents of anti-immigrant state legislation.

As a response, Marco Rubio is currently crafting legislation to be a Republican version of the DREAM Act. It is hard to predict what this bill will ultimately look like — so judgment must be suspended for now — but the pressures on the Republican party’s are easy to understand. On one hand, he must offer enough to the Latino population to at least claim that he is interested in helping Latinos. On the other, he must balance the party, and appeal to the less immigrant-friendly base. Equally significant, Rubio must demonstrate that he can move the House to his position.

But the pressure is also on the Democratic party. President Obama has deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants. And simply supporting the DREAM Act means nothing if action is not behind the sound bytes.

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