Rubio to shelve DREAM Act for now

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Monday that he is abandoning his effort to move DREAM Act legislation until after the election. 

Rubio blamed President Obama's decision Friday to halt deportation hearings against illegal immigrants who grew up in the United States. Those were the people targeted by the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. 

“People are going to say to me, ‘Why are we going to need to do anything on this now. It has been dealt with. We can wait until after the election,’” Rubio told The Wall Street Journal. “And it is going to be hard to argue against that.”

Rubio told the National Review that Obama's announcement amounted to governing "by fiat," and a spokesman for Rubio said the president had undermined the senator.

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"Frankly, the President's executive action takes a lot of momentum out of Senator Rubio's push for a consensus, legislative solution. The President action undermines the urgency to pass something before the election — a hard enough prospect even without the newly inflamed politics surrounding the issue," said Rubio spokesman Alex Conant in a statement. "Sen. Rubio was working hard to find a permanent solution to this issue, meeting with Republican Senators and Dream kid activists earlier this week, and we were not briefed — let alone consulted — before the Administration made his announcement."

Rubio acknowledged that the tide could be turning on the issue, describing a "growing consensus" among politicians and voters that children who grew up in the United States should be allowed to stay.

“There is a growing sentiment in America about these kids,” Rubio told the National Review. “If you were four years old when your parents brought you here illegally, and you have grown up here your whole life and don’t even speak Spanish, and you are your high school’s valedictorian, you have a lot to contribute to our future. It kind of feels weird to deport you.”

Still, Rubio insisted that "complicated issues require careful solutions," and said he was discouraged that momentum would be slowed on congressional legislation.

"On one hand, we want to help these kids, but we also do not want to do anything to encourage illegal immigration," Rubio told the magazine.

The freshman senator also said that although he had not discussed his version of the DREAM Act with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, he was encouraged by his public statements and was not expecting him to take a firm position on an unfinished bill.

“I’ve only seen his public statements as of late, but I think he’s open-minded about what we were working on,” Rubio said.

Romney mentioned Rubio's proposal specifically when discussing his reaction to Obama's move on Friday.

"I happen to agree with Marco Rubio, as he will consider this issue," Romney said. "He said this is an important matter. We have to find a long-term solution. But the president’s action makes reaching a long-term solution more difficult.”