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Poll: Latinos prefer original DREAM Act, but are split on 'DREAM-light'

Source: Latino Decisions

The polling firm Latino Decisions has been tracking Latino voter attitudes in the run-up to the 2012 election for some time now, and the latest temperature check deals with what's referred to as "DREAM-light," a yet-to-be-introduced alternative to the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that is being floated by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

The poll also checks the temperature on Latino voters' support for President Obama vs. GOP nominee-apparent Mitt Romney, although there's no surprise there: As several other recent polls have indicated, Latino voters continue to favor Obama, even in spite of Obama's recent statement in support of same-sex marriage and some Latinos' social conservatism.

But the Dream Act part is interesting, if not altogether surprising either. An overwhelming majority of the Latinos polled said they supported the most recent version of the original Dream Act, which proposes granting conditional legal status to undocumented college students and military hopefuls who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, with a path to citizenship. The forthcoming version being discussed by Rubio would also offer these young people temporary legal status, but without a clear path to citizenship, a aspect that's faced substantial criticism.

And yet for some voters, this and other stripped-down Dream Act imitations may perhaps represent a bird in the hand, as various versions of original Dream Act have floated around Congress for a decade without success. According to the poll, Latino voters were almost evenly split on the Rubio proposal, with 49 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed.

Also interesting is how Latinos and non-Latinos split up on the two proposals: A majority of non-Latinos surveyed also supported the original proposal, the most recent version of which is being sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, and were fairly split on the Rubio proposal. But when asked which version they actually preferred, more Latinos said they favored the original Dream Act, while more non-Latinos said they preferred the Rubio version.

Not included in the survey were other proposals inspired by the Dream Act, including the recently introduced Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status (STARS) Act, a Republican-sponsored bill that is slightly more generous than what Rubio is proposing. It would benefit undocumented students who graduate with four-year degrees, allowing them an eventual path to permanent legal status. Another alternative introduced this year has been the less-popular Adjusted Residency Status (ARMS) Act, a military-only version that would benefit those who enlist.

The pollsters interviewed 609 Latino adults and 500 non-Latino adults nationwide between late May and early June. The full results can be viewed here.