An Arizona immigration law that allows police officers to check a person’s legal status during routine traffic stops shouldn’t be a “national model,” Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said.
Arizona has difficulty controlling illegal immigration and “has a right to pass that bill,” Rubio said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. He said he wouldn’t want to see a similar law passed in his home state.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on the constitutionality of the law, which requires law enforcement officials to verify immigration status if they have reason to suspect that a person is in the U.S. illegally. Critics have said the policy leads to racial profiling.
Immigration has become a top issue in the presidential campaign as candidates from both parties court Hispanics, a significant voting bloc that supported Obama in 2008, and a group hard hit by the struggling economy.
President Barack Obama on June 15 said he won’t try to deport some illegal immigrants under age 30 who were brought to the U.S. before age 16, have lived in the U.S. for five years, have no criminal records and are high school graduates or military veterans. He has also supported legislation to provide some illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship.
Rubio said that measure, known as the Dream Act, is too broad. The U.S. “can’t do anything that encourages illegal immigration in the future,” he said.
The Florida senator last week dropped his own plan to allow some young people brought to the U.S. illegally to receive work visas if they served in the military or pursued an education. Obama’s action removed the urgency to pass such a bill before the election, Alex Conant, Rubio’s spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement June 18.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said June 20 that his campaign is vetting Rubio, 41, as a possible vice presidential candidate. Rubio declined to discuss the process today.
Romney has criticized Obama for acting on immigration policy during an election year, instead of during the first two years of his presidency, when Democrats controlled the U.S. House and Senate. The Republican candidate has also said he would veto the Dream Act, which has been stalled in Congress.
Romney “threw Marco Rubio under the bus,” U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat, said today on ABC’s “This Week” program. The former Massachusetts governor isn’t “willing to even come close to what Marco Rubio said he might be willing to do on the Dream Act,” Becerra said.