Media Call Out Rubio For Shift Right On Immigration

Media are calling out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his “mad rush to the right” on immigration after he promised to -- on his “first day in office” -- end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by President Obama to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation. Right-wing media have pushed Rubio to take a stronger stance on immigration because of his past sponsorship of bipartisan reform.

Rubio Pledges To Eliminate Deferred Action For Undocumented Immigrants

Rubio: I Will Get Rid Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals “On My First Day In Office.” During a February 18 interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that on his “first day in office”as president he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives temporary deportation relief to certain qualified undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children:

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I said that DACA has to go away and that it will. I will, on my first day in office, get rid of it because it's unconstitutional. I was against it when the president did it. I remain against it now. It cannot be a permanent policy and I've said that repeatedly. [CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 2/18/16]

Media Point Out Rubio's Shifting Position To The Right On Immigration

Washington Post: Rubio Shifted On Immigration “Because He's Been Getting Attacked Hard From The Right.” In a February 18 column titled “Marco Rubio's mad rush to the right continues,” The Washington Post's Greg Sargent wrote that Rubio's changing stance on DACA “has serious substantive significance.” Sargent explained further that Rubio “shifted precisely because he's been getting attacked hard from the right” on immigration “and needed a way to defuse these attacks”:

Under President Rubio, hundreds of thousands of people would lose their temporary reprieve from deportation -- and the other benefits of DACA, such as work permits -- on the first day of his presidency.

It's important to understand that this has serious substantive significance. It's true that Rubio has repeatedly said, albeit vaguely, that under his presidency, DACA would end eventually. (See this Politifact article documenting his repeated statements to this effect.) But saying you'll end DACA on Day One -- as Rubio has now done -- is very, very different from this. That's because DACA is granted in stints of several years; it needs to be perpetually renewed over time by the president. The pledge to end it immediately is a flat out promise not to renew it, and to cancel it on a hard date. The president has the authority to do this, since the original grant was done by executive action. And it would mean instant disruption.


But Rubio himself has been reluctant to say he'd end DACA on Day One, very likely because he understands that this would complicate his hopes of moderating on the issue as the nominee. That's now changed. And apparently, he shifted precisely because he's been getting attacked hard from the right over it, and needed a way to defuse these attacks. [The Washington Post2/19/16]

LA Times: Rubio's Shift “May Toughen” His Stance On Immigration Among Republicans. A February 19 article from The Los Angeles Times stated that Rubio's call to end DACA on Day One if elected president shows that he has “shifted his position on a key aspect of immigration policy.” The article states that "[t]he move may toughen the Florida senator's stance on immigration" in the Republican primary:

Marco Rubio has shifted his position on a key aspect of immigration policy, now saying he would reverse President Obama's deportation deferral for so-called dreamers on “day one” if elected.


The move may toughen the Florida senator's stance on immigration in South Carolina before Saturday's voting, but will surely come under attack as the campaign moves to Nevada -- a state with a robust immigrant population, including many covered under Obama's program.

The position is new for Rubio, who in the past has spoken with empathy about immigrants who were brought illegally to the country as young children. [The Los Angeles Times2/19/16]

CNN: Rubio's Call To End DACA On Day One Is “An Apparent Break From Previous Statements.” In a February 18 article, CNN reported that Rubio's claim that he would end DACA on Day One of his presidency displays “an apparent break from previous statements and inviting attacks from more hardline rivals.” The article pointed out that Rubio once held a more “accommodating posture on immigration”:

Marco Rubio suggested Thursday that he would end parts of President Barack Obama's deferred action program for undocumented immigrants on his first day in office, an apparent break from previous statements and inviting attacks from more hardline rivals.

Rubio has long maintained that he would eventually end the White House program that shields some undocumented immigrants who entered before their 16th birthday from deportation, but he has been less clear about when that would happen.

Rubio told CNN's Jake Tapper on “The Lead” on Thursday that he would revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order immediately, a departure from past comments that suggests it would not take effect until deeper into his presidency.


Rubio diverges sharply from the Republican base given his accommodating posture on immigration, one of the most explosive issues in the Republican field. In addition to his position on DACA, Rubio also is open to a path to citizenship for those who came here illegally, a stance pilloried by GOP rival Ted Cruz in a series of attack ads.

Rubio has consistently said that a separate deferred action program for undocumented parents, known as DAPA, can be ended on his first day in office. He has also said that he would stop signing up new individuals for deferred action. But Rubio has conveyed a different message when it comes to younger immigrants who came without papers as children. [CNN, 2/18/16]

Right-Wing Media Have Harshly Criticized Rubio For His Previous Support Of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The Hill: Rubio “Infuriated Some ... Conservative Media Personalities” By Supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform. A November 5 article from The Hill pointed out that many conservative media figures opposed Rubio's support of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, and that they are now “taking retribution” as Rubio rises in the presidential polls. The article highlighted recent criticism by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who recently asked if Rubio should be disqualified from the nomination because of his previous immigration positions. From The Hill:

Rubio's past support for immigration reform infuriated some of the big-name conservative media personalities who backed his upstart Tea Party bid in 2010, and they're taking retribution now that he's rising in the presidential polls.

Immigration hawks such as Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter appear unlikely to ever give Rubio a second chance.

Others, such as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Glenn Beck, appear enthused by Rubio's political skills and ready to reconsider him.

It makes for a complicated media landscape for Rubio in the highly influential land of conservative talk radio and TV as he seeks to capitalize on momentum from his strong debate performances and subsequent rise in the polls.


Ingraham, Malkin and Coulter consistently hammer Rubio for his past support for immigration reform and warn their audiences regularly that if elected president, he'll fold on the issue. [The Hill11/5/15]