The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is harshly criticizing Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) potential alternative to the DREAM Act — an idea that has yet to be proposed in a bill, but has provided the Republican Party with a perceived method for appeasing Latino voters — because Rubio won’t support a full path to citizenship. Without providing a path to citizenship and access to higher education for qualified undocumented youth, the USCCB believes that young immigrants will be “at risk of living as second class citizens in our society.”
The USCCB has supported the DREAM Act for the past several years, and a new action alert on the Justice for Immigrants section of its website reinforces this position by urging Catholics to pressure their legislators to pass the DREAM Act immediately. In the text of the action alert, the Bishops have some choice words for Sen. Rubio’s expressed opposition to passing the DREAM Act in its entirety:
The changes to the DREAM Act offered by Sen. Rubio would create a permanent underclass of people who would be unable to receive the benefits and protections as American citizens. The U.S. Catholic bishops firmly believe that DREAM Act eligible youth should have an opportunity to earn their citizenship.
While Sen. Rubio is to be commended for engaging in the issue of bringing a segment of the undocumented population out of the shadows, the current version of the DREAM Act is a better legislative vehicle than the any of the proposed alternatives. [The DREAM Act] is a thoughtful and sensible solution to the difficulties faced by many undocumented young immigrants who live in our communities and attend U.S. high schools, both respecting their human dignity and upholding our ideals of American citizenship.
Another Florida Republican, Rep. David Rivera, has also introduced an alternative to the DREAM Act — however, Rep. Rivera’s bill also fails to live up to the Catholic Bishop’s standards, since it severely complicates and limits the path to citizenship for young immigrants. As the Bishops point out, “Senator Rubio’s and Representative Rivera’s proposals would not serve the best interest of our nation. The vast majority of DREAM-eligible youth are, for practical purposes, Americans.”