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Dick Durbin Open to Working With Marco Rubio on DREAM Act

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

As a longtime advocate of undocumented immigrant children, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said today that he is not ruling out working with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in his push to come up with a bipartisan bill to help the children of illegal immigrants.

“We want to see what he is proposing in writing,” Durbin said. “I am assuming that he is approaching this in good faith, and I believe he wants to help. So I am open to any bipartisan effort”

Some Democrats have cast Rubio’s efforts as an effort from Republicans to try to curry favor with Latino voters as the GOP presidential primary winds down. Some also see it as him trying to burnish his reputation among Hispanics in case presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney chooses Rubio as his running mate. Immigration was a prominent issue during the primary with candidates taking tough stances in an effort to burnish their conservative bona fides to their base.

“I asked him that point blank, and he said it is not,” Durbin said. “So I take him at his word.”

Rubio has also spoken highly of Durbin, pegging him as someone looking for a solution rather than a political victory.

Rubio has been drafting a bill that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country if they kept a clean criminal record and joined the military or attended college.

Rubio’s bill is a variation on the DREAM Act, which Durbin helped author. But unlike Rubio’s bill, the DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who agree to go to college or join the military.

The DREAM Act passed the House in 2010, but it narrowly failed in the Senate a few days later. Since then, its prospects for passage have plummeted as GOP opposition to the measure was strengthened by the 2010 elections.

“We need bipartisan support to pass the DREAM Act,” said Durbin, who is known for periodically giving speeches on the Senate floor about promising high school students whose futures are jeopardized because of their immigration status.

Even if Durbin and Rubio were to craft a compromise, however, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today he sees a bleak future in the House.

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