As the leading Republican, Latino Senator in the U.S. Senate and a potential Vice Presidential candidate in the 2012 election, Sen. Marco Rubio holds a unique position in the immigration reform debate. While the Republican Party tries to soften its anti-immigration stance in an effort to win votes in upcoming elections, Sen. Rubio is likely to play a lead role in this effort. As an immigration attorney in Texas, I have long followed the politics surrounding immigration reform and am excited to see both parties put forth serious proposals to revamp the existing system.
Senator Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, is of Cuban descent and is helping to shape the Republican position on immigration reform. His new proposal would allow undocumented immigrants who have not committed any serious crimes to remain in the country for a period of time before achieving legal status.
The plan would introduce two phases. The first would include deportation of immigrants who have committed felonies and other serious crimes. Those immigrants without a criminal history would have to declare themselves as undocumented, provide their fingerprints, and pay back taxes and fines. After a given period during which these immigrants must be productive members of society and refrain from criminal activity, they would be allowed to apply to the immigration system.
This plan would allow undocumented immigrants the opportunity to become naturalized citizens, but would require them to follow a long and involved procedure through the U.S. immigration system. Prior to that, they would have to become legal residents. Sen. Rubio posits that undocumented immigrants should not be handed the privileges that millions of other legal immigrants have received. This plan may force undocumented immigrants to wait decades before receiving citizenship.
The Rubio plan has earned support from several key Republican figures including Bill O’Reilly, Grover Norquist and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. O’Reilly called the plan “pretty fair.” Rep. Ryan, last year’s Republican Vice Presidential candidate, lent his full support to the Rubio plan, praising its stronger security and respect for the rule of law.
This plan will face considerable opposition from within and outside of Rubio’s party. While many staunch conservatives will decry granting any citizenship to immigrants who entered the country illegally, many liberals will criticize the costs associated with deporting hundreds of thousands of Latinos and performing fingerprinting and background checks on the millions that remain.
Rubio, who is a possible contender for the presidency in 2016, may field some changes to his plan depending on how the political winds blow, but it appears that he is giving the Latino community something it desperately wants–a path to citizenship–while still maintaining a modicum of adherence to U.S. immigration laws.
The recent election has changed the political landscape which bodes well for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. As an experienced immigration attorney, I anticipate that changes in immigration policy could happen as early as the end of 2013.
As an experienced immigration attorney, I anticipate that changes in immigration policy could happen as early as the end of 2013. If you or someone you know would like to discuss this or related issues, please contact my office at (512) 215-5225 to set up a private consultation.