President Barack Obama’s decision to end the deportation of many young undocumented immigrants appears to have undercut the efforts of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — a would-be vice presidential candidate who had been working on legislation to do the same thing.
“It’s hard to steal someone’s thunder when they have been working on a bill for three months and receiving a lot of coverage for it,” quipped a Senate Democratic aide. “Detractors can say what they will about President Obama’s plan, but it gets results.”
“Sen. Rubio should be praising the president,” the aide continued, adding that the junior Senator from Florida “did not have a plan to get his plan through the Congress.”
The White House announced Friday that the new policy, effective immediately, would allow people who were brought to the United States as children younger than 16, who do not present a risk to national security or public safety and who meet several key criteria to “be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.”
Rubio had appeared to be making moves on the DREAM Act both to shore up his own bona fides with Latinos and to show he could be an able ambassador to the Hispanic community for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Because Rubio is rumored to be on Romney’s short list for the vice presidential pick, his efforts were greeted with skepticism by many Democrats even as they saw Rubio’s push as a potential way to achieve their own DREAM Act objectives.
Still, the president’s action could take the wind out of Rubio’s sails, given Obama’s action has reinvigorated opposition to the DREAM Act from conservative Republicans who see it as providing amnesty for people who are breaking American laws.
On Friday, Rubio seemed to be trying to strike a moderate tone. He said he welcomed the relief to the DREAM Act kids but believes it would likely make it harder to reach a permanent solution.
“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short-term answer to a long-term problem,” Rubio said in a release. “And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one.”
Giving veepstakes watchers even more fodder, Romney embraced Rubio’s position in comments made hours after the news.