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Des Moines Register Editorial Board: Marco Rubio Trying To "Have It Both Ways" On Immigration

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Marco Rubio may be feeding Iowa’s GOP primary voters exactly what they want to hear when it comes to immigration, but in an editorial printed yesterday, Iowa’s most influential newspaper isn’t falling for it one bit.

From the Des Moines Register:

We wanted to know where he stands on immigration after distancing himself from the reform bill he helped get passed in the Senate.

He said he switched to opposing the bill after President Barack Obama’s executive orders on enforcement, which Rubio said encouraged adults and children to head for the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rubio said he still supports major features of that bill, including giving undocumented immigrants who meet certain qualifications the opportunity to ultimately attain citizenship.

But he said illegal immigration “must be under control” before he will support reform legislation.

That, of course, lets him have it both ways: talking a good game while opposing actually doing anything, since he conceded borders could never be 100 percent sealed.

As the editorial notes, Rubio cosponsored the bipartisan immigration bill overwhelming passed by the Senate in 2013.

But since then, Rubio has disowned his own bill in favor of a “border security first” approach, and has been a vocal opponent of President Obama’s immigration actions granting millions of immigrant families relief from deportation.

“Border security first” may be a well-crafted and popular soundbite for GOP candidates, but fails to translate to any sort of serious solution to our nation’s broken immigration system (see more on GOP doublespeak here).

The federal government already spends billions yearly on border security (more than any other law enforcement agency priorities combined), and the Pew Research Center estimates that “net migration from Mexico has fallen to zero, and perhaps less.”

Even Rubio himself concedes in his interview with the Iowa newspaper that the border may never be 100 percent secure.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Rubio from waving the border security talking point like a “Get Out Of Jail Free” Monopoly card as he claims he can’t do anything for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States until the border is secure.

Foolishly, Rubio’s only concern at the moment seems to be to be able to sail through the GOP primary without any thought to the general election ahead.

This past weekend, he was a guest at a fundraiser held by the GOP’s chief mass-deportation architect himself, Steve King. Another attendee was Scott Walker, recently clobbered by both Republicans and Democrats alike for appearing to sail to the right of Mitt Romney on immigration.

We know — and the Des Moines Register knows — that those kinds of extremist immigration stances may appeal to Steve King’s voters, but they won’t fly for the majority of Americans who want immigration fixed once and for all.