Sen. Marco Rubio, the son of pre-Castro Cuban immigrants, has added a new amendment to his immigration bill that strengthens requirements that immigrants be proficient in English before being granted permanent residential status, also known as a green card.
"On the day we announced the principles that would shape the immigration bill, we made it clear that English proficiency would now be required for permanent residency for the first time in American history," Rubio, who released a Spanish-language version of his book Un Hijo Americano, said today in a statement. "This amendment ensures that will be the case."
Rubio, the first person to deliver a response to the State of the Union in both English and Spanish, originally inserted language into his immigration bill that would have allowed immigrants to be granted a green card if they could prove they were merely enrolled in English courses (assuming, of course, they met all other requirements).
Rubio, a man born and raised in a county where nearly 60 percent of residents speak only Spanish at home, has now scratched that bit from the bill, and immigrants must prove they have proficiency in English before they're granted permanent resident status.
Rubio, who aired Spanish-language advertisements during his election campaign, characterized the previous provision as a "loophole."
As Yahoo! news points out, it takes about 600 hours of instruction for those who don't speak English to attain proficiency in conversational English. About 55 percent of adult unauthorized immigrants would not be able to meet these stricter requirements.
Under current law, immigrants do not need to prove English proficiency to obtain a green card and are tested on their English only before being granted full citizenship.
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