(Jim Clark) – Now that it looks to be clear sailing for Mitt Romney to get the GOP presidential nomination, it’s also time to look past the arguments that dominated the GOP primary/caucus fights and formulate a winning policy position for the November election.
President Obama’s pronouncements from his trip to Central America signal that he is again going to make immigration reform a major issue of this campaign. Translation: Having promised, as a candidate during the 2008 presidential campaign, comprehensive immigration reform and having failed totally to deliver even on the Democratic DREAM Act even though his party controlled the house and had a filibuster-proof majority in the senate, Mr. Obama now wants to again ask Hispanic voters to reelect him.
The Democratic DREAM Act would allow children of illegal immigrants, who were brought to the US by their parents, to enter onto a path for citizenship if they entered college or the service and to be immune from deportation while engaged in either.
Although then Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s house passed this version of the DREAM Act, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was unable to get a Senate majority to vote for the measure, much less a cloture-proof 60 votes. This was followed by the 2010 elections with huge Republican gains, including control of the House, so for the last two years the DREAM Act has lain gasping for air.
During the 2012 GOP primary/caucus fight, Romney was driven to the right by having to counter Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. This included adopting a hard line on immigration. Now he’s staring at the general election where independents, many of whom are Latino voters, will decide the outcome.
To the political rescue comes Florida Senator Marco Rubio with legislation he will be introducing, which is dubbed by the media as the Republican DREAM Act.
What would it do? The Rubio bill would allow young people who came to the US with their illegal immigrant parents to have access to non-immigrant visas, which would allow them to study or join the military, and after completion of studies or active military service, allow them to work legally in the US. While working, they could apply for a green card and 3 to 5 years after they obtain a green card, they would be eligible for citizenship.
Democrats have belittled Rubio’s proposal as “DREAM Act, Lite” and the liberal New York Times has derisively called it: “The DREAM Act without the Dream.” Their cynicism may be premature.
Harvard-educated, syndicated Hispanic columnist Ruben Navarrette calls it something else: “A common sense solution.” Writing for CNN, Navarrette continues: “It could break a stalemate and improve millions of lives. And it could only be opposed for ugly partisan reasons.” A very reasonable approach in view of the fact that the Democratic DREAM Act has kicked around Congress for over 10 years and is no closer to fruition than it was at the outset.
Navarrette continues: “Take it from me. I was born in the United States as were three of my four grandparents. So while I care about the immigration debate, the truth is that my destiny, and that of my family members, doesn’t rise or fall on whether Congress stops passing this hot potato and finally tackles immigration reform.”
“What I’m hearing from the illegal immigrants I’ve interviewed – who also happen to be parents of teenagers who are also undocumented – is emphatic support for a bill like this. They don’t care about citizenship and they even care less about voting. All they care about is putting their kids in a lifeboat.”
Will the GOP succeed where the Democrats have failed? Looks like we’ll find out shortly.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates and a member of the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)