Florida Republican introduces DREAM Act alternative in House

A Republican congressman introduced alternative immigration legislation to the DREAM Act on Wednesday.


The Studying Towards Residency Status Act, introduced by Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.), offers young immigrants living in the country illegally a chance to be granted non-immigrant status for five years if they meet certain criteria. They must have entered the U.S. before they were 16, have lived in the country for five consecutive years, earned a high school diploma and been accepted to a 4-year institution of higher learning.

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The bill is meant as an alternative to Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants provided they have demonstrated good moral character and are working toward completing a degree at a college or university or serving in the military. Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Florida Republican who is friends with Rivera, plans on introducing an alternative to Durbin's bill by the end of the summer. 

Rubio's bill would provide non-immigrant visas to the young illegal immigrants provided they attend college or serve in the military. Unlike Durbin's bill, Rubio's bill will not provide a path to citizenship.

"The STARS Act would allow undocumented students who arrived here at a young age, graduated from high school and are accepted into a university, to apply for a five-year conditional non-immigrant status," Rivera said in floor remarks. 

According to an aide, Rivera has had discussions with Rubio over their proposals.

"Congressman Rivera has had discussion about the STARS Act with Sen. Rubio, but the congressman recognizes that the House and Senate each have their own legislative process," the aide said. "The STARS Act is meant to start the conversation in the House of Representatives in the hopes of achieving some sort of immigration reform in the 112th Congress."

Durbin and other Democrats have expressed openness to working with Republicans to pass some kind of immigration reform legislation but it's unclear how successful that effort would be given the opposing views over granting citizenship.

Rubio's legislation could be an effort to appeal to Hispanics in order to help Mitt Romney. Rubio is often mentioned as a top prospect for the vice presidential spot on the 2012 Republican ticket. Romney has said he is "studying" the proposal as it's crafted but is yet to endorse it.

Romney has said, if elected, president, he would veto Durbin's DREAM Act.