Rubio called for more high-skilled workers to legally enter and remain in the country, expand guest-worker permits for lower-skilled laborers such as farm workers and streamline the process.
Rubio also wants to legalize the status of many of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants. He said they’d have to pay fines, back taxes and prove they’re not criminals. In return, they’d be given what’s known as "non-resident legal status." Then after a number of a number of to-be-determined years, they’d have an opportunity to apply for permanent residency and receive a green card.
Rubio says he wants young people who are illegally in this country to be given a pathway to residency if they go to school and or the military. Former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, has endorsed Rubio’s plan.
In contrast, President Obama has backed the DREAM Act, which would put these citizens on a pathway to citizenship. Obama also wants many other illegal immigrants to be given a shot at citizenship, not just residency.
“I think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to deal with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway for the undocumented here, needs to deal with the Dream Act kids. And I think that’s something that we can get done,” Obama said at a White House press conference Monday.
Bush, who plans to publish a book on immigration this spring, at another point said Republicans need to “stop acting stupid” regarding immigration, in part because it cost the party votes.
Bush’s admonitions were ignored. Obama went on to win the Hispanic vote 60 percent to Mitt Romney’s 39 percent in Florida, an outsized margin that helped the president overcome disproportionate non-Hispanic white support for the Republican candidate. Nationwide, Obama’s margin was even bigger. Some Republicans began to worry that the party couldn’t afford a repeat as the Hispanic population grows in size and influence.
In Monday’s Doral meeting, more than 20 immigration-reform advocates asked their Republican congressional leaders to push for the DREAM Act.
A few expressed concern with the focus on border security, noting that deportations have been at record highs — as has immigration-enforcement spending — under Obama while the number of illegal immigrants coming into the country has decreased. Yet Republicans are pushing for even more immigration enforcement.
Estefania Pugliese, a 19-year-old graduate of Ronald Reagan Senior High School in Doral, said she wants Congress to do something not just for her but for her parents, Venezuelan nationals whose political asylum case has dragged on for years.
“I have been a very blessed DREAMer,” she said. “But I fear my parents being deported.”