Absolving Right-Wing Media, Marco Rubio Blames American People For Immigration Reform Failure
Research ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN
During the December 15 Republican presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) again backed away from his support of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, saying his opinion changed with that of the American people. However, polling data suggests that Americans consistently favored comprehensive immigration reform, the Republican Party sabotaged immigration reform, and Rubio faced extreme backlash from right-wing media causing him to change his position.
Rubio Blames His Shift Away From Comprehensive Immigration Reform On "The American People['s]" Lack Of Trust In Federal Government On Immigration
Marco Rubio Defends His Decision To No Longer Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform. During the December 15 Republican presidential primary debate, Marco Rubio stood by his current immigration stance, which, as moderator Dana Bash pointed out, is much different than the bill the senator co-sponsored in 2013, which offered a path to citizenship (emphasis added):
DANA BASH (DEBATE MODERATOR): We've been talking tonight about programs and policy proposals that you all have to keep Americans safe and it's a big discussion on the campaign trail. Also about border security and immigration. So let's talk about immigration. Senator Rubio. You co-authored a bill with Democrats two years ago that allowed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Do you still support that path to citizenship, which means giving those immigrants rights like the right to vote?
MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Immigration is not an issue that I read about in the newspaper or watch a documentary on PBS or CNN. It's an issue I've lived around my whole life. My family are immigrants. My wife's family are immigrants. All of my neighbors are immigrants. I see every aspect of this problem. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And here's what we learned in 2013. The American people don't trust the federal government to enforce our immigration laws and we will not be able to do anything on immigration until we first prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control. And we can do that. We know what it takes to do that. It takes at least 20,000 more additional border agents. It takes completing those 700 miles of fencing. It takes a mandatory E-Verify system and a mandatory entry/exit tracking system to prevent visa overstays. After we've done that, the second thing we have to do is reform and modernize the legal immigration system. And after we've done those two things, I think the American people are going to be very reasonable with what do you do with someone who's been in this country for 10 or 12 years, who hasn't otherwise violated our laws because if they're a criminal they can't stay. They'll have to go undergo a background check, pay a fine, start pay taxes, and ultimately they'll be given a work permit. And that's all they're going to be allowed to have for at least 10 years. But you can't even get to that third step until you've done the other two things and that was the lesson we learned in 2013. There is no trust that the federal government will enforce the law. They will not support you until you see it done first.
BASH: Senator, you haven't answered the question. You just described a long path but does that path end at citizenship?
RUBIO: Oh, but I've answered that question repeatedly. I am personally open after all of that has happened and after ten years in that probationary status where all they have is a work permit, I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card. That may not be a majority position in my party. But that's down the road. You can't even begin that process until you prove to people, not just pass a law that says you're going to bring illegal immigration under control. You're going to have to do it and prove to people that it is working. And that was the lesson of 2013. And it's more true today than it was then, after a migratory crisis on the border with minors coming over that you're seeing start up again now. After all these executive orders the president has issued. More than ever, we need to prove to people that illegal immigration is under control. [CNN, Republican Presidential Debate, 12/15/15]
A Majority Of Americans Have Consistently Supported Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Gallup: "Support For Path To Citizenship Consistent Over Time." In an August 12 report, Gallup examined a longitudinal study on American attitudes towards immigration reform, writing "two in three U.S. adults favor a plan to allow immigrants who are living legally in the U.S. to remain in the country and become citizens if they meet certain requirements over time" and that views about immigration "have been largely stable over the past decade":
Two in three U.S. adults favor a plan to allow immigrants who are living illegally in the U.S. to remain in the country and become citizens if they meet certain requirements over time. Far fewer support allowing those immigrants to remain in the U.S. to work for a limited period of time (14%), or to deport all of these immigrants back to their home countries (19%). U.S. adults' views have been largely stable over the past decade.
U.S. adults' views on the best approach to take with illegal immigrants living in the U.S. differ based on their party identification. At 80%, Democrats overwhelmingly favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and to have an opportunity to become citizens. Republicans are far less likely to support a path to citizenship, at 50%, but that is still the most common view among this group. Thirty-one percent of Republicans want to see all illegal immigrants deported, while 18% favor allowing them to stay for a limited time to work.
In Fact Republicans Sank The 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Effort
Washington Post: Reform "Unraveled In Recent Months Amid Persistent Opposition From House Republicans." As a June 2014 article in the Washington Post explained, House Republicans spent months opposing comprehensive immigration reform and eventually convinced Republican House leadership not to take up the legislation:
The slow collapse of new border legislation -- which has unraveled in recent months amid persistent opposition from House Republicans -- marks the end of an effort that Democrats and Republicans have characterized as central to the future of their parties. The failure also leaves about 12 million illegal immigrants in continued limbo over their status and is certain to increase political pressure on Obama from the left to act on his own.
But after a year of cajoling, prodding and berating House Republicans, leading advocates acknowledge that time has run out. Friday marks a year since the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration bill on a bipartisan vote, with no progress evident in the GOP-controlled House and few working days left in the year to approve legislation.
Hopes for a broad immigration deal already had dimmed considerably by this spring. But the Obama administration and its Democratic allies believed, based on signals from House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and other GOP leaders, that there was a final window for possible agreement this summer before the midterm elections.
Two recent developments, however, doomed whatever chances remained, advocates and lawmakers said. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a primary election this month to a tea-party-backed challenger who ran on a strong anti-immigration platform. In addition, a new crisis erupted on the Mexican border, as tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children were apprehended crossing illegally into Texas over the past several months.
House Republicans have cited both situations as evidence that the time is not right for a bipartisan deal that would provide legal status, and potentially citizenship, to millions of illegal immigrants. Many also have stepped up their rhetoric on the issue, blaming the administration for the border crisis and saying Obama has not convinced them that he will adequately enforce immigration laws. [The Washington Post, 6/26/14]
Rubio Is Actually Folding To Pressure From Right-Wing Media, Who Called On Him To Change His Position
Laura Ingraham: Rubio Will "Rue The Day That He Became The Gang Of Eight's Poodle" Unless He Walks Away From Immigration Reform. During the May 15, 2013 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show, Ingraham suggested that Rubio should have abandoned immigration reform efforts and claimed that Rubio will "rue the day he became the Gang of Eight's poodle," encouraging Rubio to instead "walk away" from comprehensive immigration reform "before it's too late":
I think in the end, Marco Rubio is probably going to rue the day that he became the Gang of Eight's poodle. Yes, I will say it. Others won't. Poodle. He has a very narrow window to jump out of, save himself and maybe even save conservatism while he's at it. Marco Rubio, do what's right. Walk away, fast before it's too late. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 5/15/13]
Bill Kristol: Rubio Should Walk Away From Immigration Reform. During the May 21, 2013 edition of Ingraham's radio show, Weekly Standard editor and founder Bill Kristol advised that Rubio "walk away" from comprehensive immigration reform, saying that he "made a good-faith effort" but helped craft a bad bill:
BILL KRISTOL: Hopefully for Marco Rubio, who has said he has, you know, he's keeping an open mind, he wants some of these amendments to pass. There will be a lot of pressure on him including [INAUDIBLE] from Republican elites, big business elites etc. to sort of just go along with this bill. They seem to think that somehow they can miraculously change Republican electoral prospects. And for some of the business class they can provide a lot more cheap labor.
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Oh yeah.
KRISTOL: Those are not good reasons for passing a serious piece of legislation.
INGRAHAM: Yeah. So your prediction, or your advice to Marco Rubio? Given everything you've seen in Washington, what should he do now?
KRISTOL: He should walk away from it. He should say I made a good faith effort. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 5/21/13]
Conservative Pundit Michelle Malkin: "Why Doesn't Rubio Form A Gang Of One And Dare Washington" To Pass Stricter Immigration Security. In an April 26, 2013 column, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin asserted that Rubio should move away from the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill and offer his own plan for border security only:
Here's a test: Why doesn't Rubio form a Gang of One and dare Washington to pass the entry-exit system his new pals all say they support as a stand-alone first. Let's see them prove they can keep even a single one of their national security/immigration enforcement promises before entertaining 900 more pages of them. Prove it.
Now the Gang of Eight Republicans want conservatives to jump in bed with these security saboteurs for another Amnesty Now, Enforcement Never plan? Who's Rubio kidding? Only himself. [MichelleMalkin.com, 4/26/13]
Breitbart News: Rubio Should "Put The Security Of Our Nation First" And Vote No On Immigration Reform. In a June 7, 2013 article, Breitbart News argued that Rubio should vote against the immigration reform bill and instead "put the security of our nation first" instead of comprehensive immigration reform:
What will Senator Rubio do? Will he put the security of our nation first and oppose amnesty by voting no on the Gang of Eight's immigration bill or will he choose the path McCain took long ago -- the path of going along to get along with the Republican establishment and the Washington elite? [Breitbart.com, 6/7/13]