10 May 2012

Rubio's US immigration proposal attacked from both sides

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Florida Senator Marco Rubio's Republican US immigration alternative to President Obama's DREAM Act has attracted stark criticism from both proponents and opponents of a more lenient approach to immigration.

US immigration

Florida Senator Marco Rubio's US immigration proposal has been met with criticism from all sides.

Senator Rubio's US immigration proposal is a Republican alternative to the Democratic sponsored DREAM Act, which would give children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they attend college or serve in the military.

While details are still to be finalised, Senator Rubio's proposal is expected to grant a non-immigrant US visa to children of illegal immigrants who serve in the military.

As the DREAM Act is currently struggling to make it through the American Congress, many commentators thought an opportunity for a Republican alternative was ripe. Republicans have traditionally advocated a stronger line on immigration enforcement than the Democrats but the Obama administration's record levels of deportations combined with the lack of progress on the DREAM Act left the Republicans with the chance to gain support among Hispanic voters.

With the upcoming presidential election looming, the Hispanic vote is being touted as one of the most important for any candidate to secure if they want to win. As Hispanics have strong ties to South and Central America, immigration is predictably an important issue.

However, despite the fact a Republican politician, himself a Hispanic American, has proposed a relatively lenient stance on US immigration for the Republicans to embrace Senator Rubio has encountered criticism from both sides of the political border.

"I think it's a sham," said Joyce Kaufman, an influential conservative talk show host from Florida. "He promised me in my studio that that wasn't going to happen."

"When he got to the national level, immigration was going be controlled, he was going to stay firm.

"He's designing a DREAM Act; I think it's outrageous."

Ms Kaufman's remarks have been echoed by other conservative talk show hosts as well as Republican Representative Allen West:

"It can be seen as a king of pandering going into an election cycle if you don't really grapple with the bigger problem," said Rep. Allen West.

While the Senator's proposal is certainly a shift to left compared to Republican's traditional stance, Senator Rubio has received no warmer a welcome from Democratic supporters.

"[Senator Rubio's proposal] would mean kids who grow up in America and do everything right wouldn't be able to vote and wouldn't have all the responsibilities and rights of being an American citizen," said Frank Sherry of America's Voice, a leading proponent of the DREAM Act.

"We're not going to give up on the path to citizenship."

Senator Rubio's proposal will have to be finalised and then put before both houses of Congress before it can be passed into law yet last month, Majority House Speaker and leader of the Republican Party John Boehner doubted whether it could be done in an election year, leaving it in almost as much doubt as the original DREAM Act.

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