Marco Rubio’s Immigration Reform

Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) has an idea for immigration, one that focuses on the children of illegal aliens:

The first step I’m trying to make is to deal with children basically that were brought here at a very young age through no fault of their own, find themselves here undocumented.… All I’m trying to do is to help these kids do right what their parents did wrong.

and it looks like this.  The time durations, at this point, are vague as Senator Rubio says these still are being developed as he works toward enough Senate sponsorship to bring it to the floor for debate.  If these general criteria are met,

  • high school graduate
  • no criminal record
  • been in the US for a certain period of time and came here before a certain age
  • invested in our society

then these children, now high school graduates, would be eligible to apply for a non-immigrant visa.  This visa would enable the holder to obtain a driver’s license but not to vote.  This visa also would enable the holder to stay in the US legally to complete his education—e.g., go to college.

The “certain age” requirement is intended to include young teenagers and children but exclude older teenagers and adults—i.e., those in a position to exercise a choice about whether to enter the US illegally would be ineligible, but those who were ” brought here by their parents or by circumstances” would be eligible.

Senator Rubio discriminates this from amnesty in a couple of ways.

There’s a difference that we’ve long recognized in this country, for example, in the case of refugees, between the people who have chosen to break the law and be here illegally and those who were either brought here by their parents or by circumstances[.]

Moreover, unlike amnesty, a green card would not automatically be awarded to a non-immigrant visa holder.  Only after the non-immigrant visa holder has been in the US, acting as a productive member of his community, for a number of years after obtaining this visa, would the holder would be eligible to apply for a green card, if he wished.  He would have to do so, though, through then-existing channels; there would be no special pathway either for the green card or for citizenship.

This is an outline of a plan, and as he notes, it’s a first step.  It doesn’t address the question of the adult illegal aliens, nor does it address the other two legs of proper immigration reform: securing our borders and making it far easier for immigrants to enter our country legally.  However, this is a good start, and it’s well worth supporting.

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