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Marco Rubio’s Embrace of Trump’s Mass-Deportation and White Nationalist Rhetoric Embodies GOP’s Long Descent

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Washington, DC Yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Florida Senator and onetime GOP immigration reform champion Marco Rubio embraced Donald Trump’s mass-deportation vision, while relying on the conspiratorial white nationalist “invasion” rhetoric connected to real-world violence. 

Rubio’s comments, at direct odds with his 2016 stated beliefs and the bill he championed in 2013, encapsulate the ongoing descent of the Republican Party on immigration into a full-fledged embrace of Trump’s destructive vision. They are getting in line to embrace Trump’s  cruelty and chaos, while trashing real attempts to address the related issues and modernize a broken system. Of note, as the excerpts below detail, Senator Rubio is open to the prospect of deploying the military to roundup and deport both recent migrant arrivals and the same long-settled undocumented immigrant populations Sen. Rubio once supported.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

“Sen. Rubio is now endorsing a plan that would see Trump deploy the military on the streets of Miami to round up undocumented immigrants, many of whom likely have been living in the United States since before he was elected in 2010. To justify his change of heart, Rubio is promoting the white nationalist ‘invasion’ conspiracy, which has inspired deadly attacks in  Pittsburgh, El Paso, Buffalo and elsewhere.     

American voters want Congress and the GOP to come to the table on real bipartisan solutions to fix a broken immigration system. Marco Rubio used to believe that. Now, while angling for favor within Donald Trump’s MAGAfied Republican Party, Sen. Rubio is embracing the incalculable damage to the nation – economically, morally, and through the lens of community and social fabric – that Trump’s mass deportation plan would wreak on the country. Rubio’s destructive vision, includes targeting Dreamers, mixed-status family members, TPS holders and others deeply embedded in America – the same people  that Senator Rubio used to support. It’s a depressing encapsulation of the long descent of a once-proud Republican Party and a once-promising leader who would now rather engage in performative politics than work to deliver needed policy breakthroughs.”

As the embedded Meet the Press video details, when he ran against Trump in 2016, Sen. Rubio denounced Trump’s mass-deportation vision, (see video clips at 1:10 of this link, featuring Sen. Rubio in 2016), noting about Trump’s mass-deportation vision: “I don’t think it’s reasonable to round up and deport 11 million people … I don’t think it’s a plan that works … I don’t think that’s a realistic policy.” Yesterday, when asked by moderator Kristen Welker if he supported Trump’s second term pledge to conduct “the largest deportation operation in U.S. history” involving migrant detention camps and the deployment of the U.S. military to deport undocumented immigrants, Sen. Rubio said, “the answer to your question is ‘yes.’”

When pressed about what caused such a radical shift in his thinking, Rubio asserted that “the issue has changed,” citing the volume of recent asylum seekers and migrants, and that his past support for immigration reform involved a population “of 11 or 12 million people who had been here for longer than a decade.” Yet, notably, Trump’s promised mass purge and second-term deportations wouldn’t just be directed at the newer asylum seekers and migrants that have been flashpoints in recent years, but also against Dreamers and the long-settled undocumented population – the 11 million – that Rubio had once supported. 

Attempting to justify his answer, Sen. Rubio also stated “This is an invasion of the country” – another indication of his descent into fully embracing Republicans’ dangerous rhetoric on immigration, including relying on white nationalist conspiracy language that has been connected to real-world violence.

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