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Marco Rubio Remains Tone Deaf On Immigration

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Immigration became a big point of discussion during last night’s Republican debate, a discussion that Marco Rubio was able to avoid. Despite Rubio’s pivotal role in the “Gang of 8” Senate bill in 2013 and his subsequent reversal, he wasn’t asked about immigration by the debate moderators. Rubio, however, has been busy in the post-debate media cycle.

Despite his attempts to straddle both sides of the immigration issue, Rubio has officially sided with the immigration hardliners.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post examined the candidate’s newest remarks and captures the fact that, despite attempts to deny it, “Rubio’s way forward, broadly speaking, is a retreat from his previous support for comprehensive immigration reform — he’s now saying some unspecified ideal of border security must be attained before we can even begin to discuss legalization. That, plus his refusal to side firmly with Kasich and Bush on the mass deportation question, appears to be designed to avoid alienating conservative voters who are largely reluctant to make peace with the idea of integrating the 11 million.”

Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg View writes today: “Marco Rubio has a three-step plan on illegal immigration. Trouble is, it’s a three-step plan for Rubio to gain the Republican nomination, not to address illegal immigration.”

Kerry Eleveld at DailyKos asked a simple question that has yet to be answered: MARCO RUBIO: Do you or don’t you support Trump’s insane mass deportation plan?

On NPR, Rubio spoke about his “three step process” – a process that includes “a very long path” for legalization for undocumented immigrants. Just how long is the Rubio path? Infinite.

Let us take a close look at Rubio’s “three step process,” and unpack what he shared on NPR.


Continuing his longstanding tradition of disassociating himself with the bill he helped write–which passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis in 2013, and had the support of a bipartisan majority of House Members at the time, Marco Rubio told NPR’s Steve Inskeep that a comprehensive immigration bill “just can’t happen.”

Instead, Rubio proposes that, in order to move forward on immigration, the country must adopt additional enforcement measures, specifically “walls in key sectors of the border… entry/exit tracking system… and E-Verify,” all to prove to the American people that “that numbers of illegal immigrants have come down.”

Our take is that those who say “border security first” – and Rubio is firmly in this camp now – really mean “immigration reform never.” Not to mention that the immigration related numbers that Rubio wants see lowered have already been in decline.

Back in May the Washington Post ran a story on border security, and included a quote from R. Gil Kerlikowske, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who said the following:

“We have seen tremendous progress… The border is much more secure than in times past.”

The Washington Post even highlighted the increase in budget that Border and Customs enforcement has received over the years:

Since the Bush administration, the DHS has dramatically increased its efforts to lock down the southwest border. The budget for Customs and Border Protection has grown to $10.7 billion in the past decade, a 75 percent increase. The number of Border Patrol agents at the border has nearly doubled over the past decade, to more than 18,000 today.

And, let’s not pretend that there wasn’t overbearing security over the past few years –  just take a look at President Obama’s deportation record.  This isn’t enough for Marco Rubio. Nothing will be.


Again, an excerpt from Rubio’s interview with NPR:

Modernize the legal immigration system so that it is merit based, so people come here legally on the basis on what they can contribute economically – not whether or not they have a relative living here.

Translation, when Rubio says “merit based” he means elite immigration.  He’s sending a signal to segments of his base that he’ll support high-skilled immigration, NOT farm workers, factory workers and yes even, bartenders who happen to have family in the United States but not a lot of formal education.

Marco Rubio’s shameless resignation of the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill illustrates that he is not only unwilling to help address the challenges of current undocumented immigrants, but that he is willing to say “no thank you” to individuals who wish to reunite with family here in the United States.

Here another thing to consider: you can’t “modernize” something that you and your party refuse to touch.

Perhaps Marco Rubio is best off taking a close look at a 2013 report by Latino Decisions, which qualifies his stances on immigration as widely unpopular among Latino voters–that is, if he wants to play to win the general election.  Maybe he’s just in it for the primary fight, so he’s trying to avoid taking an actual stance on immigration.  But if he thinks he can Etch-A-Sketch his way to an enlightened position should he remain standing, he’d be wrong.  We will remember.