Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, is dropping plans to introduce legislation that could grant work visas to some young people brought to the U.S. illegally, according to his spokesman.
Rubio, a potential running mate to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is suspending his plans after President Barack Obama announced June 15 that the U.S. will immediately stop deporting some illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Obama said they would be eligible for work permits, in an election-year action with appeal to Latino voters.
“The president’s executive action takes a lot of momentum out of Senator Rubio’s push for a consensus, legislative solution,” said Alex Conant, Rubio’s spokesman, in an e-mailed statement today. “The president’s action undermines the urgency to pass something before the election -- a hard enough prospect even without the newly inflamed politics surrounding the issue.”
Rubio’s proposal would grant work visas to some young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, if they later served in the military or pursued an education.
“Rubio was working hard to find a permanent solution to this issue,” Conant said. “We were not briefed, let alone consulted” before Obama made the announcement, he said.
Obama said June 15 the change in policy provides a degree of relief and hope “to talented, driven, patriotic young people” and makes the nation’s immigration system “more fair, more efficient and more just.”
The new policy affects about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before age 16, have been in the U.S. for at least five years, have no criminal record and are in school or have a high school diploma or equivalent, according to the Homeland Security Department.
The administration’s action would bypass Congress, where legislation known as the Dream Act designed to provide a path to legal status for younger undocumented immigrants has been stalled.
It pushes the issue back into the spotlight in the election campaign between Obama and Romney, who has opposed the Dream Act. Romney said in April that he would review Rubio’s proposal.
Rubio said on June 15 that Obama’s new policy “imposed by executive order” is “a short-term answer to a long-term problem.” Rubio, 41, hadn’t introduced his proposal in the Senate.