Boehner Talked to Rubio About GOP Version of DREAM Act: ‘I Found It of Interest’

By Edwin Mora | April 26, 2012 | 1:14 PM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP Photo)

( – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Thursday that he had spoken with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) about Rubio's version of the DREAM Act and  “found it of interest.”

Rubio's proposal would allow some people currently in the United States illegally to get a visa and remain legally in the United States as they applied for citizenship.

At Boehner's Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, a reporter asked the speaker: “Marco Rubio has been talking to reporters a lot about his vision for a modified DREAM Act … with a path to legality. Can you imagine any type of immigration bill that would be in the House this year that wouldn’t be specifically just about border security?”

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Boehner said, “Well, there’s always hope. I did talk to Sen. Rubio about his idea and [he] gave me some particulars about how this would work. I found it of interest. But the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment and to deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best.”

The Republicans control the House (242-190) and the Democrats control the Senate (53-47), with Democrat President Barack Obama in the White House.

The House speaker went on to criticize President Obama for not proposing an immigration plan of his own that could be enacted into law.

“But, again, let me ask this question: The president of the United States runs around the country doing speeches, done a couple speeches over the last 15 months about immigration,” said Boehner. “As a matter of fact, over the last three years he’s done a number of speeches about immigration. Where’s the president’s immigration plan? Where does the president stand on this issue? Instead of campaigning all the time, maybe he ought to come back to Washington and go to work.”

Although the Rubio has not released the legislative text of what he has in mind, he has discussed some of its provisions with the media, indicating it would allow some who are now illegal aliens to get a visa that allowed them to legally wait "in line" inside the United States, where they would eventually be allowed to become citizens.

"There is nothing that prohibits them from getting citizenship,” Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times in an April 3 interview. “We just don't create a new pathway. The bottom line is they would have a visa of some sort and, like they and any other visa holder in this country, can get in line and apply for residency. You have to wait in line but you get to wait in line in the U.S. legally.”

“They would be here living, studying, working, while they're waiting in line,” he added.

“We have a broken legal immigration system,” Rubio further said.  “Someone would say, 'Well it's going to take them forever to get residency.' Well, that's true of anybody. The system has to be modernized but that's a separate topic. It doesn't create a pathway to citizenship directly but doesn't prohibit them from entering the regular pathway.”

As currently proposed in Congress by Sen. Richard Durbin (D.-Ill.) and others, the DREAM Act would grant conditional permanent resident status for a period of six years to those who came into the United States illegally before the age of 16. Those eligible would be able to attain legal permanent status if they obtain an associate-level academic degree or serve in the U.S. military for two years after the six year period.

The DREAM Act has failed to win enactment in Congress since it was first proposed in 2001.

“I support the idea behind the DREAM Act, which is to help these young kids. I don’t support the DREAM Act as currently drafted because it allows for chain migration, because it creates a pathway to citizenship that can potentially encourage illegal immigration in the future,” said Rubio in an April 1 interview with Juan Williams on Fox News Latino.

“We should figure out a way to accommodate and there are ways to do that and we’re actively working on ways to do that, that gets us to 60 votes, whether it’s a visa process that legalizes them and,” he said, “wouldn’t’ prohibit them in the future from accessing the citizenship process. But it wouldn’t give them a pathway to it especially carved out.”

On March 27, The Hill quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as saying, “I’m going to do everything in my power to stop a watered-down version of the DREAM Act.”