Washington – Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate are preparing a version of the DREAM Act to legalize undocumented students as a type of "lure" to capture the Hispanic vote in November.
Although no details of the prospective bill have filtered out, Sen. Marco Rubio is working along with other Republicans on an "alternative version" of the DREAM Act, which became stalled in the Senate in 2010.
Rubio told the daily The Hill that for now there is nothing new to announce but that his goal is to arrive at a "responsible" solution to the presence of undocumented immigrants in the United States and announce it "quickly."
In remarks to Efe, a spokesman for Rubio, Alex Burgos, said Tuesday that the Florida senator "wants to help these young people and do it in a more limited way than the DREAM Act would do."
"He will continue working with his colleagues to achieve a bipartisan solution," Burgos added.
Rubio said in a March 1 interview with Efe that he is maintaining his commitment to achieving a bipartisan solution to illegal immigration.
Among the possible ideas he is weighing, he said at that time, is creating "a student visa so that they can stay to finish their studies until they can apply legally."
Without citing any names, Rubio also complained that some politicians, instead of conducting a bipartisan dialogue, are only seeking to use the problem of undocumented immigrants "as a political weapon in November."
Citing Senate sources, The Hill said that the proposal, negotiated in secret, will be announced after Mitt Romney secures the Republican president nomination.
It would be, The Hill says, a bill from which both parties would benefit: undocumented students would regularize their immigration status and Republicans would have something tangible to show the Hispanic electorate in November.
Romney, who continues to have a sizable advantage over his rivals in both money and organization, opposes immigration reform that allows the regularization of all undocumented immigrants in the United States, whose numbers are calculated to be more than 11 million.
In January, however, Romney suggested that he would support the legalization of undocumented students who serve in the U.S. military.
In the House of Representatives, Florida Republican David Rivera is promoting the ARMS Act, a type of DREAM Act that only opens the way to legalizing undocumented students who serve in the military.
In addition, Republican Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas are preparing their own immigration bills, but neither of them has been willing to tell the press anything about them.
In any case, the Republicans are now seeking - as a bloc - to resuscitate measures to provide immigration relief for undocumented foreigners in the midst of an election year and this is raising suspicions both among pro-reform groups and Democrats.
In general, the hostile stance of conservatives against undocumented immigrants has hurt the image of the Republican Party with the immigrant community and, in fact, the party has lost ground among Latino voters, according to several surveys.
The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Harry Reid, warned during a meeting with Latino businessmen last week against any Republican "decoy" that would dilute the DREAM Act.
The reality is that both parties have to do something substantial, and very soon, to recover the confidence of Latino voters. If not, that group is certain to make them pay at the polls.