This blog has been updated/rewritten since last week, when, based on a snippet of a quote, Sen. Bill Nelson's position was misrepresented regarding fellow FL Sen. Marco Rubio's immigration proposal. Nelson said he basically supports Rubio's plan, if it's the best Congress can do.
But initially, it appeared Nelson panned the idea of the so-called DREAM ACT alternative:
Unlike the actual DREAM Act, Nelson said, Rubio’s proposal does not give students who attend college or join the military a path to citizenship but a legal status that he said was vague, not in writing and shrouded in confusion.
“Are they going to sit here in a legal limbo?” he said. “Are they going to have to go back to their country of origin and stand in line to get back?”
A screen shot of the original blog is above.
Here's how AP represented Nelson's sentiment:
In a roundtable discussion with about three dozen students at the University of South Florida, Nelson said he remains a strong proponent of the DREAM Act, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors measure. The Democratic-backed bill would grant a path to citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the military. It remains stalled in Congress.
Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, is crafting a Republican alternative that would permit young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. with their parents to apply for non-immigrant visas. They would be allowed to remain in the country to study or work and could obtain a driver's license. They could apply for legal residency later, but they would not have a special path to citizenship.
Pressed on Rubio's plan, Nelson said he was awaiting the final version of the evolving legislation.
"If that's the only thing we can pass, then I'm certainly open to it," he said. "But that's not going to solve the problem because once the child – or now-grown student – gets through, what's going to happen to them? Are they going to sit here in legal limbo? Are they going to have to go back to their country of origin and get in line to then come back? Well, at that point they think of themselves as American."
Last week, Rubio stopped by the Miami Herald and our WLRN studio where he pointed out that the Washington Post and others have noted that the White House sees his immigration proposal as a threat because Democrats were planning to use immigration as a wedge issue to curry favor with Hispanics (Rubio later acknowledged that Republicans, too, play wedge-issue politics with immigration).
But perhaps the most intriguing dynamic between Rubio and Nelson was from a Rubio interview a few days ago, in which we asked him about Nelson: "We have a very good working relationship, which is in a long tradition of Florida senators. I think that’s important. Our state expects that of us."
But doesn't that put you in a box when it comes to the Senate challengers?
Rubio: "I want the Republicans to be a majority here in the Senate. And I think they’ll understand that his seat is one of the seats Republicans would want to win. And so certainly we’re going to have a nominee. And from that perspective, Republicans would want that nominee to win.
"But I’m never going to say anything negative about Bill Nelson because we have a good working relationship. And ultimately I think our ability to work together for our state now, in the lead-up to the election and after the election, is important. And I think people will expect that."