Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday defended his emerging version of a scaled-back Dream Act to help the children of illegal immigrants earn legal status, saying it is not a form of amnesty and would use the existing immigration system to address a “humanitarian issue.”

“We don’t create any special pathways,” the Florida Republican senator, who is considered a strong contender to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Rubio’s nascent proposal would allow the children of undocumented residents to obtain visas if they are attending college or serving in the military, and then apply for permanent residency through the normal process after that. The original version of the Dream Act, which many Republicans opposed, would have created a special path to permanent residency and even citizenship.

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