Sen. Marco Rubio (D-Fla.) (Andy Lavalley / The Post…)
WASHINGTON -- Republican Sen. Marco Rubio-- whose reaction to the Obama administration’s immigration order will likely be one of the most closely watched of his party-- issued a carefully worded statement Friday that called for helping young illegal immigrants but criticized the president’s approach.
“There is broad support for the idea that we should figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own, but there is also broad consensus that it should be done in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future,” the Florida senator said. “This is a difficult balance to strike, one that this new policy, imposed by executive order, will make harder to achieve in the long run.
“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short-term answer to a long-term problem,” he added. “And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one.”
Obama has supported proposed legislation, known as the Dream Act, that would enact programs to provide a path to citizenship for some young illegal immigrants, but the legislation has repeatedly stalled in Congress.
A potential vice presidential pick, Rubio is an advocate for a shift in how Republicans tackle immigration reform. He has been pursuing an alternative to the Dream Act that has the potential to bolster the GOP’s standing among Latino voters, although it has been getting mixed reviews among immigration rights groups.
Rubio’s proposal, which is still being formed, would legalize the status of certain young people who are in this country illegally if they pursue higher education or the military – but would likely fall short of providing them a guaranteed route to citizenship as the Dream Act does.
Immigrant rights groups had been intrigued by Rubio’s efforts, especially as the administration’s pursuit of the Dream Act appeared to stall, but some criticized it as creating a new gray status for young illegal immigrants.
A Rubio aide said the Obama administration did not consult with the senator before Friday’s announcement.