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Politic365: Marco Rubio's Puff the Magic DREAM Act

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Key Point: Gaby Pacheco, an undocumented Floridian who walked from Miami to Washington, D.C. two years ago to raise awareness for the DREAM Act told Politic365: “Senator Rubio can’t have it both ways. You can’t say you are against the DREAM Act but are for DREAMers. The problem is not some thing that magically appeared and for Republicans like Rubio, it’s not going to magically disappear. They either get real and support the DREAM Act or fall in danger of further disappointing Latino voters.”

Politic 365: Marco Rubio’s Puff the Magic DREAM Act
Adriana Maestas

This week the junior senator from Florida dug his heels in again stating his opposition to the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people who complete college or military service. This comes after Marco Rubio personally met with Daniela Pelaez, a high school valedictorian from his home state who was being subjected to deportation. The Republican Senator came away from the meeting calling the DREAM Act “the wrong way to do the right thing.”

Daniela Pelaez received a stay of deportation for two years and drew the attention of the national news media after about 2,600 students protested against her predicament last week. Pelaez’s goal is to become a doctor, and she has already applied to several Ivy League institutions in hopes of getting closer to making her dream a reality.

With the shortage of doctors in the U.S., one might hope that a young person like Pelaez, who was brought here from Colombia as a pre-school aged child, might have a few options to adjust her status given the goal of entering an in-demand profession.

In the past month Republicans have criticized the DREAM Act for not providing a narrower alternative – the military only. Florida Congressman David Rivera introduced the Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act back in late January that would allow undocumented youth brought to the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday to adjust their status after serving in the Armed Forces. Newt Gingrich has promoted this military-only DREAM Act, and Senator Rubio has indicated to the media that he’s receptive to this idea but has not formally supported it.

The problem is that this narrow policy that will allow some undocumented youth to adjust their status won’t help those who might be ineligible for military service for medical reasons or young people who just might not be a good fit for the armed forces but have talents in other areas like chemistry or information systems.

And to make things more confusing for undocumented Florida youth, Senator Rubio says that something should be done to accommodate these young people, but he doesn’t specify what that “something” is. As reported by NPR this week:

“Rubio says he opposes the DREAM Act because it would set up a mechanism that he believes would encourage more illegal immigration. But, at the same time, he says something should be done for the young people brought to the U.S. by their parents and who now want to serve in the military or go to college. “I believe there’s broad bipartisan support for the notion that we should somehow figure out a way to accommodate them,” he says.”

A quick search of bills introduced by Senator Rubio in this current legislative session doesn’t reveal a bipartisan solution to accommodate undocumented young people. Maybe he’s imagining things.


Gaby Pacheco, an undocumented Floridian who walked from Miami to Washington, D.C. two years ago to raise awareness for the DREAM Act told Politic365: “Senator Rubio can’t have it both ways. You can’t say you are against the DREAM Act but are for DREAMers. The problem is not some thing that magically appeared and for Republicans like Rubio, it’s not going to magically disappear. They either get real and support the DREAM Act or fall in danger of further disappointing Latino voters.”

And that’s the point — Rubio is in a position to advocate for talented young people like Daniela Pelaez. Senator Rubio can get behind a tangible policy solution that would provide relief to thousands of young people he purports to represent or he can continue to talk up an imaginary solution.