So word on the street is that Senator Marco Rubio is joining other Republicans’ mad rush to pander to the Latino vote and do some damage control in anticipation of the November elections. It seems that Republicans want to find a way to undo the disastrous impact that Mitt Romney’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has had in alienating Latino voters. Rumor is that by introducing a red herring version of the DREAM Act, Republicans could capitalize on immigrant rights activists’ frustrations with Democrats’ failure to pass some form of immigration reform. Apparently the legislation would aim to provide some form of relief to undocumented youth only if they serve in the military but unlike previous versions, it would not provide a pathway to citizenship. As New America Media argues, it would be a sort of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, presenting a dilemma for the immigrant rights community:
Immigrant rights advocates are now taking the temperature of the political landscape to determine what the bill’s chances are of gaining traction in Congress. They will have to decide whether to back the bill, as what could be the only viable option to improve the legal status of undocumented students here (that is, if it succeeds in gaining bipartisan support); or to hold out for the original version of the bill that would offer a path to citizenship and real equality (even if it has lost its momentum).
Like LGBT activists in 1993, immigrant rights advocates today are facing a Catch-22, where taking a step toward equality simultaneously would cement their status as “second-class citizens.”
I don’t believe for a minute that Republicans are serious about moving their own bill on providing some form of relief to undocumented youth. If they were serious about achieving serious reform, they would have voted for the 2010 version the DREAM Act to begin with. I also don’t believe for a minute that Rubio would be able to rally other Republicans to support this version of a DREAM Act “lite”, as some are calling it. The previous versions that were voted on last time were ALREADY versions that were watered down supposedly to attract Republican votes, and some had Republican support at some point but when it came time to vote on them, all that “Republican support” faded into thin air. We can debate about the reasons why that support eroded but one seems to be an undeniable trend: many Republicans will continue to oppose it because they will never be able to get past their party’s own bigotry and xenophobia. Frankly, hanging your hat on Republican political will seems as disingenuous as hanging your hat on Democratic political will alone.
Having said that, I say let’s call Marco Rubio’s and the rest of the Republicans’ bluff BUT let’s expose them at each step of the way for the predictable hateful rhetoric their party is bound to hurl at immigrants. I hate to say this, but I’d put my money on the Republicans filibustering the bill, concocting some racist conspiracy theory like how this is a secret ploy to “infiltrate” the U.S. military or some other harebrained idea. Let’s also not give Marco Rubio a pass for opting for this latest even-more-watered-down version of a DREAM Act, if it can even be called that. It has been very clear that he has been turning his back on his own Latino community for quite some time now and has sold his soul to the Tea Party all in the name of his own policital ambitions:
So let’s not pretend that this is some grand gesture on Rubio’s part. Yes, it’ll be interesting to see what his bill will actually say. Unfortunately for Rubio, his Republicans colleagues will probably not be able to help themselves in succumbing to the bigoted far-right wing of their party.
So yeah let’s call their bluff and let them vote on the bill and put them on the record. Put right-wingers in all their bigoted glory for everyone to see as they trip over themselves to stop even this bill. As long as it doesn’t hurt other undocumented people’s chances of a pathway to legalization, let’s make Republicans put their money where their mouth is. Let’s see them squirm. What have we got to lose?