Friday, March 30, 2012 | 4:58 p.m.
On Tuesday The Hill reported Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was drafting an alternative Dream Act that he hoped to bring to Congress in the near future.
The newspaper that covers Congress said Rubio offered no specifics on how his bill would differ from previous versions of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.
However, there has been speculation that Rubio's bill would offer a legal status to young immigrants in the country who joined the military or graduated from college, but would not provide for a path to citizenship. In a preemptive strike Friday, Dream Act proponents in Las Vegas had a news conference to discourage Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, from signing on to Rubio's legislation and to decry the proposal as insufficient.
"It's exploitative," Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, said of the idea of a Dream Act with no possibility of achieving citizenship. "You can work here and pay taxes here, but you will never achieve the ability to vote or the right to participate in the democratic process."
Juan Ortega, president of the pro-Dream Act organization Dream Big Vegas, urged Heller, who he said met with Rubio this week to discuss the legislation, to not support Rubio's proposal.
"Instead of providing an earned pathway to citizenship for young men and women brought to this country through no fault of their own and who risk their lives in the U.S. military or attend college - they are offered third-class legal status," Ortega said. "This is an insult and a slap in the face to Nevada's Latino community."
Heller's campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Speculation on the details of Rubio's forthcoming proposal stems, in part, from an interview he gave Fox's Geraldo Rivera earlier in March in which Rubio said the Dream Act has "a series of problems" as it is currently drafted.
"I do think there is another way to deal with this," Rubio said. "And I think that one of the debates that we need to begin to have is a difference between citizenship and legalization.
"You can legalize someone's status in this country with a significant amount of certainty about their future without placing them on a path toward citizenship, and I think that is something that we can find consensus on," he said.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has said he wishes to bring the Democrat's version of the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship but previously has failed to pass, to a vote sometime this year.
Also on Friday, a group of students who are walking across the country to raise awareness and support of the Dream Act was passing through northern Nevada. The Sun interviewed one of the walkers last week after they started their journey in California.