Rubio: Failure to ‘Accommodate’ Illegals Within Confines of U.S. Law = ‘Missed Golden Opportunities’

By Edwin Mora | May 24, 2012 | 5:09 PM EDT

( -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told a crowd of small business leaders with the Latino Coalition that the failure to "accommodate" the status of young illegal aliens within the confines of U.S. laws constitutes "missed golden opportunities" fueled by partisan politics.

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"We have missed golden opportunities and continue to miss them right now," said Rubio on Wednesday at the Latino Coalition's Small Business Summit hosted at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.  "For example, we have an immigration system, a legal immigration system, that's broken; a legal immigration system that makes it harder for someone who has millions of dollars to invest to come to this country legally and invest it; a legal immigration system that educates the world's best Ph.Ds and master's degree holders and then we ask them to leave."

Rubio continued: "An immigration system in a country that has hundreds of thousands of young people that have grown up among us who find themselves in an undocumented status through no fault of their own and who now desire to contribute to America's future. And yet because of partisan politics we haven't been able to figure out a way to accommodate them within the confines of our heritage as a nation of laws, but also our legacy as a nation of immigrants."

Rubio has announced that he is working on an alternative version of the DREAM Act, which would provide young illegal aliens with a special visa allowing them to stay in the United States legally and get in line to become citizens.

The Florida senator claims that his plan does not prevent young illegals from becoming citizens, but falls short of providing them with a direct pathway to such status. He has not published a specific proposal yet.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

As currently crafted, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, introduced more than a decade ago, would provide conditional, permanent resident status for a period of six years to those who came into the United States illegally before the age of 16. After the six-year period, 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. Legal permanent residents can become citizens.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters on April 26  that he finds Rubio's plan interesting, but that it would be difficult to pass in the current political environment.

Rubio is a potential vice presidential running mate for Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who also spoke to the Latino Coalition.

Alex Burgos, a spokesman for Rubio, told that Romney has shown "openness" to the modified proposal dubbed the GOP DREAM Act.

The spokesman's comments came after the Massachusetts governor on April 23 said that he was "studying" Rubio's proposal, but did not specifically endorse the plan.

There were people protesting outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, possibly illegal immigrant students, demanding that those speaking at the Latino Coalition event acknowledge and support the DREAM Act as currently proposed.

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