If the White House dislikes the idea of a Republican like Senator Marco Rubio proposing and winning support-at least among Latinos-for an alternative to the DREAM Act, then it must do something concrete to collectively benefit a generation of young people who not only are not to blame for their immigration status but are essential for this country’s future.
The White House should offer administrative relief to young people who meet basic requirements: being here undocumented, being students or former students (many are graduates without job options that match their degrees), showing good behavior and not having a criminal background, among others.
Suspending their deportation and granting them a status that allows them to study and work throughout the country would not just be a viable alternative for these Dreamers and a positive step for the United States. It would also resolve the biggest dilemma Democrats now face: allowing Republicans to eat their lunch, after the GOP fiercely opposed all other options and overwhelmingly voted against the DREAM Act in 2010.
This could happen thanks to the alternative Senator Rubio has discussed. Although he has yet to present his proposal, the GOP is already trying to earn political brownie points. The leadership vacuum the White House has left on this issue, with rhetoric substituting action, can be perfectly filled by someone like Marco Rubio, whose shrewdness and political skills are better than many had expected.
In fact, senators like John McCain are already talking about Republican candidate Mitt Romney being aware of “the need for immigration reform,” even if this reform is completely different from what is really needed. And Romney himself has attacked Obama for promising to tackle the immigration problem and not fulfilling the promises. Empty words, but they could make a dent.
Our message to the White House: more action and fewer words. Providing administrative relief to the Dreamers will say more than running 100 ads in Spanish.