Share this article

print logo

Rubio drops visa legislation; Action by Obama negates proposal

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is dropping plans to introduce legislation that could grant work visas to some young people brought to the United States illegally, according to his spokesman.

Rubio, a potential running mate to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is suspending his plans after President Obama announced June 15 that the United States will immediately stop deporting some illegal immigrants brought here as children.

Obama said they would be eligible for work permits, in an election-year action with appeal to Latino voters.

"The president's executive action takes a lot of momentum out of Senator Rubio's push for a consensus, legislative solution," said Alex Conant, Rubio's spokesman, in an emailed statement Monday. "The president's action undermines the urgency to pass something before the election -- a hard enough prospect even without the newly inflamed politics surrounding the issue."

Rubio's proposal would grant work visas to some young people brought to the United States illegally as children, if they later served in the military or pursued an education.

Obama's policy affects about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before age 16, have been here for at least five years, have no criminal record and are in school or have a high school diploma or equivalent, according to the Homeland Security Department.

The administration's action would bypass Congress, where legislation known as the Dream Act designed to provide a path to legal status for younger undocumented immigrants has been stalled.

Meanwhile, Obama's decision has won favor with Latino voters in key battleground states, according to a new poll.

The Latino Decisions survey found that Obama's move had wiped out an earlier "enthusiasm deficit" among Hispanic voters over the administration's deportation policies in the key states of Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Arizona.

Forty-nine percent of the Latino voters surveyed said Obama's move made them more enthusiastic about the president, compared with 14 percent who were less enthusiastic. Thirty-four percent said it would have no effect on their attitude toward Obama.

That "enthusiasm advantage" of 35 percentage points compares with a 19-point deficit in a survey earlier this year, when Latino voters were asked about the high level of deportations of immigrants under the Obama administration.