Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is willing to support a "Dream Act"-style bill from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) even if it's "watered-down" and doesn't give a path to citizenship, he told Fox News Latino in an interview published on Monday.
"If it stops the deportation, and doesn't exclude them from becoming citizens," he said. "It doesn't stop that from happening, yes. And I think we can arrange, arrive at that."
Rubio had yet to release a specific proposal, but plans to unveil a bill within a few weeks that would provide legal status to some undocumented young people who entered the United States as parents. His plan, like the decade-old Dream Act supported by most Democrats, would be aimed at those who agreed to attend college or join the military.
But Rubio has said his legislation will have one key difference: unlike the Democrats' bill, which would put those eligible on a path to citizenship, he has said he would grant legal status, but not a special route to becoming citizens. That measure prevents the bill from being "amnesty," according to Republicans.
Gutierrez supports the Democrats' Dream Act, but has met with Rubio to discuss what the senator's plan will be. The congressman, along with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), attended a private meeting with Rubio on April 25 to discuss the matter.
Gutierrez told Fox News Latino he cannot definitively get on board until the legislative language is released, but wants to work with Rubio.
"I think he is sincere, I think he is genuine, and if he brings forward a proposal, I am ready to work," he told the network's Juan Williams. "I think the real fundamental question isn't whether or not I am going to support it, 'cause Juan, if he has got a proposal, I will work with Rubio, I am telling you that.”
He said he will continue to work toward other immigration reform regardless of the outcome of the legislation. Gutierrez told The Huffington Post earlier this month he thinks major reform may be possible during President Barack Obama's second term, should he defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney in November.
During this session though, Gutierrez expressed concern that even Rubio's Dream Act plan may be too difficult to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
"Here is the real problem," he told Williams. "I'll be optimistic. I think he can bring along 10, 15 people. And I think they’ll be 50 Democrats and it can get passed in the Senate. But how do you get it past in the House of Representatives?"
Romney, who Gutierrez said is too extreme on immigration, has indicated he may support Rubio's bill, which could give it a boost.
"I'm taking a look at his proposal," Romney told reporters in April. "It has many features to commend it. But it's something that we're studying."
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