So, will he or won’t be vote for his Gang of Eight’s version of comprehensive immigration reform?
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is starting to sound like a politician who knows he miscalculated on the public’s support for a legalization first approach to fixing America’s broken immigration system.
Consider these two statements from the Florida lawmaker as quoted by The Hill:
“There will have to be improvements [to the Gang’s bill],” Rubio said [after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it without substantial changes]. “Because the good thing is the American people, the vast majority of them throughout the political spectrum, have clearly said that they are prepared to responsibly deal with those that are here illegally, but they are only willing to do so if we can take measures that ensure that this problem will never happen again in the future. And so, if we can make sure we put in place enforcement mechanisms and a guest worker program that ensures this will never happen again in the future, we’re going to have responsible immigration reform. And if we don’t have that, then we won’t have immigration reform.”
But on Monday of this week, Rubio is sounding a different tune when explaining to a constituent why reform couldn’t be piecemeal as Republicans in the House of Representatives want:
“I give you my word, that if this issue becomes one of those old-fashioned Washington issues where they start horse trading, one part of it for another part of it,” Rubio said in a video response to a constituent’s concern. “If each of these are not dealt with as separate issues even though they are dealt with in one bill, then I won’t be able to support that anymore.”
The problem with immigration though is that it is complex because it is all interwoven,” Rubio said. “It’s all related to each other. It’s literally impossible to do one part without doing the other.”
So, which is it? Is immigration reform as the Gang envisions it in need of major changes to make it acceptable to the House, or is it a done deal that can’t be amended?
I suspect the answer for Rubio is both. The Gang’s bill as-is does not secure the border first, and therefore – among many other serious problems – will be dead on arrival when it hits the House, as it should be. The problem for Rubio, though, is that he is one of the Gang members, making him a co-author of everything that’s in the bill. To walk away from it now, without any big changes, would indicate that his real problem with the bill is that it’s not popular. What conservatives want instead is for him to oppose it because, as written, it’s wrong on the merits.
Personally, I like Marco Rubio and hope he can find an honorable way to disassociate himself from the Gang of Eight, so that he can be a Senate champion for immigration reform that puts security and enforcement before amnesty.
It’ll be tough, but it’s worth the effort.