Growing Support for a “Limited” Dream Act: Governor Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio?

There is growing support among Republican leaders for a limited version of the Dream Act, according to Florida’s The state-level Dream Act allows children who grew up in America, yet as minors entered the country illegally by no fault of their own, to receive in-state college tuition, in the state in which they reside and graduated from high school. The state version of the Dream Act does not deal with immigration status.

Read the full post by Shark Tank’s Javier Manjarres: “Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush In-Line With a Limited Form of the Dream Act?

Governor Rick Perry’s support for in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants is now getting the blessing of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who always has had a soft spot for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in Florida. Governor Bush stated to the National Journal that he thought that Perry’s Texas tuition measure was “fair policy.”

By all accounts, the illegal immigration debate is ready to explode onto the 2012 election season, as many groups, both pro and anti-illegal immigration begin to make their cases for their respective causes. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was ridiculed several years ago for not helping to pass (6) immigration reform bills that eventually died while he was the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

According to the Journal, in 2003 and 2004, Senator Marco Rubio sponsored a similar bill offering tuition assistance to the children of illegal immigrants. During his 2010 Senatorial campaign, Rubio ran to the right on the illegal immigration issue, and fast became the pro-legal immigration candidate, winning the both the Tea Party and Conservative votes.

“Senator Rubio does not support blanket in-state tuition benefits for students who are in this country illegally. As he said throughout the 2010 campaign and continues to say today, he believes that a consensus exists to help a limited number of young people who were brought here by their parents as young children and have worked hard, exhibited good moral character, and want to contribute to our nation’s future in a meaningful way by becoming part of American society and attending college or joining our armed forces,” said [Senator] Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos.


Several versions of the “Dream Act” exist, with very different rules when implemented at the state or federal level. State based “Dream Acts” are in-state tuition measures and usually only impact a student’s ability to attend college. Most versions of a federal DREAM Act deal with college admission, military service and a student’s immigration status. According to the National Journal, “…Rubio opposes the federal DREAM Act, which would allow children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military to earn legal status. Perry also opposes that legislation.

The Dream Act has received major attention in the Republican presidential primary, as some candidates move to the right on immigration reform and attack their rivals on possible weaknesses with the conservative Republican base. Both Jon Huntsman of Utah and Rick Perry of Texas have supported state versions of the Dream Act as Governors.

When Perry started zooming to frontrunner status with conservative voters, the Romney campaign went on the offense. The Washington Post reported, “The Romney campaign also plans to use immigration to drive a wedge between Perry and his conservative base.” Ricky Perry has walked a fine line on immigration issues as Governor of Texas. He has been attacked by the Right for being too soft and by the Left for being too harsh on immigration issues.

In a Post editorial it was reported that about 16,500 undocumented Texas youth benefited from the in-state tuition law last year — about 1% of all students enrolled in the state’s community colleges and universities. Some Texas Republicans in the state legislature are trying to repeal the measure, arguing “Texas cannot afford the $40 million that the measure costs in lost tuition income,” which represents about one-twentieth of 1 % of the state’s $80 billion in annual spending.

Rates of Latinos attending college have increased since Governor Perry took office. A recent report by The Texas Higher Education Board noted that Hispanic enrollment in higher education increased by 88 % from 2000 to 2010. Hispanics make up almost 40% of the total Texas population, with over 9.2 million Texans of Mexican origin. Texas houses the second largest Hispanic population after California.


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