As the Republican presidential primary heats up, illegal immigration is again taking center stage. While this is nothing new (as we know President Reagan attempted to address it in the ’80s, John McCain made it a priority in ’08, and on), the discussion has taken an interesting turn this election cycle.
At issue, of course, are Obama’s executive amnesty, the recent influx of illegal immigrants (including huge numbers of children), the vast number of illegals currently living and working in the U.S., border security (such as it is), and a host of related issues including the burden of illegal immigration on tax payers in terms of jobs, health care, schooling, police and judicial involvement, and various entitlement costs.
Marco Rubio’s involvement with the Gang of Eight, particularly his
subservience to bipartisan efforts with Chuck Schumer, has not gone unnoticed by either the conservative base nor by the other presidential hopefuls.
When Rubio ran for the Senate in 2010, he
was claimed to be an adamant opponent of amnesty, and only once elected did he jump at the chance to work on a massive “comprehensive” amnesty plan. At the time, Professor Jacobson noted that Rubio was “played” by both Schumer and the GOP pro-amnesty McCain-Graham tag team (and he was right).
Since then, Rubio has tried to distance himself from his own choices (while raking in money from pro-amnesty supporters behind closed doors), but it’s worth noting that his mentor Jeb Bush probably played a role in decisions that Rubio now seems to regret. For example, like Jeb, Rubio was very quick to distance himself from the TEA Party that was instrumental in electing him to his current seat in the Senate; this is not unlike Jeb’s negative assessment of the conservative base when he dismissed us as unnecessary to his presidential ambitions.
To me, it seems that Rubio’s amnesty lies are, er flip-flop is, more rooted in his being a campaign conservative who says one thing to get elected and does the opposite once in office. That’s not a rare thing in American politics, so it’s somewhat amusing to me when Donald Trump now claims that Rubio’s support for amnesty is “because he’s Hispanic.”
This seems to be an off-the-cuff remark and not his campaign’s message; he also does not reject the idea of Rubio as his VP running mate should he win the GOP nomination. However, even if a comment made in passing, this seems a simplistic and somewhat specious argument.
Beyond the points made above, not only are the majority of GOP establishment (i.e. supporters of amnesty) white, but one of the staunchest opponents of amnesty is himself Hispanic.
Ted Cruz has stated that he literally laughed out loud at Rubio’s bizarre claim that his position on illegal immigration is the same as Cruz’s.
[Cruz] told reporters after, “In the “Gang of Eight” fight Marco chose to stand with Chuck Schumer and to lead the fight tooth and nail for a massive amnesty plan. I chose to stand with [Alabama Sen.] Jeff Sessions and to lead the fight to defeat amnesty.”
Cruz’s broadside was the latest in an escalating feud between the two senators that blew up in the wake of Tuesday’s fourth GOP debate, during which both had strong performances. Rubio over the past couple of days has tried to equate Cruz’s record on immigration which his own more relatively conciliatory one, while Cruz has pushed back hard on those efforts.
“I have to admit that I laughed out loud at that,” Cruz said earlier Friday on Mike Gallagher’s radio show, in response to Rubio’s assertion on Thursday that they held similar views on immigration reform. He went on to add, “that statement was truly stunning. That’s like Obama saying my position is the same as his on Obamacare. That’s like Ayatollah Khamenei saying my position is the same as his on the Iranian nuclear deal.”
Cruz, you may recall, led the fight against the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight amnesty bill. Watch:
And the bill was stopped in its tracks.
I was proud to help lead the fight against amnesty in the Senate in 2013: https://t.co/JxWTrzbDLd
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 13, 2015
Like Trump, Cruz has released his own illegal immigration plan summary in which he focuses on three key elements: securing the border, restoring the rule of law, and reforming legal immigration to protect Americans. See link for discussion of each point.
SECURE THE BORDER
A Cruz Administration’s first priority for immigration reform will be to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. We will:
- Build a wall that works.
- Triple the number of Border Patrol agents.
- Increase vital aerial surveillance and other technology along the border.
- Finish the biometric tracking system at our nation’s ports of entry.
RESTORE THE RULE OF LAW
We need a President who will follow the law, hold those who break it accountable, and take seriously the duty to protect Americans. To restore the Rule of Law, a Cruz Administration will:
- End President Obama’s illegal amnesty.
- Increase deportations and end catch-and-release.
- End sanctuary policies, sign Kate’s Law, and deport criminal immigrants.
- Prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving financial benefits and strengthen E-Verify.
REFORM LEGAL IMMIGRATION TO PROTECT AMERICANS
In order to strengthen our immigration system, protect national security, and better serve American workers, we must:
- Suspend the issuance of all H-1B visas for 180 days to complete a comprehensive investigation and audit of pervasive allegations of abuse of the program.
- Halt any increases in legal immigration so long as American unemployment remains unacceptably high.
- Enforce the public-charge doctrine.
- End birthright citizenship.
Cruz makes his point via Twitter:
No nation in the history of the world has allowed so many millions to come with nothing and achieve anything. https://t.co/JxWTrzbDLd
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 13, 2015
The question facing Republican primary voters is: Has Rubio learned his lesson? Perhaps an even more pertinent additional question is: Have we, as we watched Rubio go from TEA Party hero to GOP establishment zero, learned our lesson?