Rubio’s Bizarre Dance on Immigration Reform

Rubio’s Bizarre Dance on Immigration Reform October 30, 2013

Remember when Marco Rubio was seen as a rising star in the GOP and a serious 2016 presidential contender? Part of the reason he’s no longer taken seriously is how he has handled the issue on which he staked his entire political appeal, immigration reform. ThinkProgres has a rundown of how he has flipped and flopped and now opposes the very bill he advocated:

JAN 14: BLASTS OBAMA FOR NOT ADVOCATING IMMIGRATION REFORM.Rubio tells the Wall Street Journal that Obama has “not done a thing” on reform and is likely using the issue to mobilize the Democratic base. During the presidential campaign, Rubio criticized Obama for failing to achieve reform in his first term. “His party controlled Congress for two years,” he told Fox News in October, “and they did absolutely nothing.”

JAN 14: SAYS HE SUPPORTS A PIECEMEAL APPROACH TO REFORM. Rubio says he would like to see “a comprehensive package of bills”—maybe four or five as opposed to one omnibus—move through Congress. “He says other experience with ‘comprehensive’ reform (ObamaCare, the recent debt deal) shows how bad policy easily sneaks into big bills. But adds, “It’s not a line in the sand for me.”

JAN 28: OUTLINES PRINCIPLES FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM. Shorty after joining a “Gang of 8″ senators dedicated to overhauling the immigration system, Rubio toured conservative talk shows advocating his approach to reform. “All we can come up with is a starting point…there are, you know, 94 other senators who have opinions about what this law should look like and there is the American public and there is the House and the Executive Branch so obviously people are going to have some input as to what they want it to look like …this is the first step, this is the architecture,” Rubio tells Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey in January. “We just have to get this thing done for once and for all,” he tells the New York Times.

FEB 17: BLASTS OBAMA FOR DRAFTING IMMIGRATION BILL. After USA Today published a leaked and incomplete draft of President Obama’s immigration reform bill — which resembles 2007′s bipartisan legislation and Rubio’s own principles — Rubio rushes a statement condemning the administration for contributing to the very debate he claimed would be incomplete without its input. Rather than offering a constructive critique of the leaked portions or highlighting areas of similarity, Rubio announced that Obama’s bill is “disappointing to those of us working on a serious solution” and is “dead on arrival in Congress.”

MARCH 31: WARNS SENATORS AGAINST RUSHING IMMIGRATION REFORM.“A rush to legislate, without fully considering all views and input from all senators, would be fatal to the effort of earning the public’s confidence” Rubtiowrites in a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the chairman of Senate judiciary committee.

APRIL 14: PREDICTS SENATE BILL WILL WIN ‘BROAD SUPPORT. “And this bill modernizes it in a way that’s going to get broad-based support,” Rubio tells NBC’s Meet The Press. “We also have to be able to enforce our laws. This bill once introduced, as we’ve agreed to, I think, will show that a broad base of enforcement measures, unlike anything this country’s ever seen. And what it does is it creates a way for us to address the millions of people that are here undocumented in a way that’s compassionate, but also, in a way that’s responsible.”

APRIL 14: PLEDGES TO SUPPORT IMMIGRATION REFORM. Asked by Meet The Press host David Gregory if he would “step back and say, ‘I can no longer support this compromise agreement?,’” Rubio says: “Well, I’ve been very clear about my principles of what reform needs to look like. And if this bill were to somehow to abandon those principles via the amendment process or what have you, certainly I wouldn’t support that. But I don’t anticipate that.”

APRIL 24: ENTERTAINS THE IDEA OF NOT GRANTING VISAS TO MUSLIM STUDENTS. Rubio suggests that, given the attack on Boston carried out by two immigrants, he would consider barring young foreign Muslims from getting student visas to come the United States.

MAY 7: SLAMS HERITAGE ANALYSIS OF SENATE BILL. Rubio joins the growing chorus of conservative criticism of the Heritage Foundation’s anti-immigrant report, which claims the Senate’s immigration bill would cost the economy $6.3 trillion. Rubio denounces the report’s assumption that all immigrants will forever be poor and uneducated, pointing to how his own family flourished after entering the U.S.

MAY 9: REQUESTS ANALYSIS SHOWING SENATE BILL WILL BOOST SOCIAL SECURITY. Analysis from the Social Security Administration finds that the Senate immigration bill “would strengthen the Social Security trust fund by adding millions of workers to tax rolls and provide a boost to the overall economy.” The report was requested by Rubio.

MAY 24: URGES CONSERVATIVES TO SUPPORT SENATE BILL. Rubio appears on Fox News’ Hannity to argue that undocumented immigrants will have to earn citizenship and won’t disadvantage people applying for legal status. “Undocumented immigrants living in the United States will apply for temporary legal status, begin working and paying taxes, and apply for lawful permanent resident status though the same merit based system everyone else must use to earn a green card and if all people currently waiting for family and employment green cards have had their priority,” he says.

JUNE 4: SAYS HE MIGHT VOTE AGAINST HIS OWN BILL. Rubio tellsconservative talker Hugh Hewitt that he would vote against a bipartisan immigration reform bill he helped draft unless lawmakers approve an amendment that would limit the Department of Homeland Security’s discretion over border security and potentially lengthen undocumented immigrants’ path to citizenship.

JUNE 11: URGES SENATORS NOT TO ENDORSE HIS OWN BILL. Rubio urges his Republican colleagues to refrain from publicly endorsing a comprehensive immigration bill he helped write in hopes of bolstering its border security provisions.

JUNE 13: REFUSES TO SAY IF HE SUPPORTS HIS OWN BILL. “I don’t want to get involved in the hypotheticals and ultimatums,” Rubio tells ABC’s This Week when asked if he would back the immigration bill he helped draft.

JUNE 27: VOTES FOR HIS OWN BILL. “Here, immigrants will give their children the life they once wanted for themselves,” he says on the floor. “Here generations of unfulfilled dreams will finally come to pass. Even with all our challenges, we remain the shining city on the hill. We are still the hope of the world. And in the end, that is why I support this reform.”

AUG. 12: WARNS REPUBLICANS THAT IF CONGRESS DOESN’T ACT, OBAMA WILL. “I have maintained that for more than a year, that I believe that this President will be tempted if nothing happens in Congress,” Rubio says in on interview on the Morning Show With Preston Scott.

AUG. 30: STOPS TALKING ABOUT IMMIGRATION REFORM. “On a six-city, three-day swing through North Florida last week, Rubio emphasized his opposition to funding the health care law and barely mentioned immigration…In a 35-minute speech to the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, he devoted just one minute to the reform legislation he helped shepherd through the Senate,” The Associated Press reports.

OCT. 20: CLAIMS OBAMA HAS JEOPARDIZED IMMIGRATION REFORM. Rubio says that President Obama’s refusal to compromise with Republicans on Obamacare to re-open the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling has jeopardized the chances of passing comprehensive immigration reform. “I think immigration reform is harder to achieve today than it was three weeks ago because of what happened here,” the first-term senator said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, before agreeing with opponents of immigration reform who warn that the Obama Administration will simply fail to enforce border security or other aspects of a bill he disagrees with.

OCT. 26: ABANDONS HIS OWN BILL. A Rubio spokesman tells Brietbart News that the House shouldn’t pass an immigration bill to trigger a conference with the Senate legislation. “At this point, the most realistic way to make progress on immigration would be through a series of individual bills,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant says. “Any effort to use a limited bill as a ruse to trigger a conference that would then produce a comprehensive bill would be counterproductive. Furthermore, any such effort would fail, because any single senator can and will block conference unless such conference is specifically instructed to limit the conference to only the issue dealt with in the underlying bill.”

There’s a reason for all this flailing around. He’s trying to navigate between the Scylla and Caribdis, appealing to moderate, reasonable voters and to the xenophobic Tea Party crowd at the same time. And it simply isn’t possible to do, so he keep careening back and forth and can’t find a coherent position with a flashlight and a map.

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  • busterggi

    Hmmm all that flip-flopping reminds me of another recent Republican candidate named Mittens or something.

  • doublereed

    The whole idea is that Rubio was going to try to be the reasonable, get-things-done guy to push for immigration reform. And he would be a prominent hispanic republican. It would show that republicans do not have animosity against latinos, and simultaneously make Rubio in THE presidential candidate for 2016.

    Unfortunately, the Republicans are actually quite racist and nativist. And they have only encouraged this contigent of their base these last few years. They all turned on him when he went for real immigration reform. So it completely shatters his whole idea and it’s all for naught.

  • abb3w

    @0, Ed Brayton

    And it simply isn’t possible to do, so he keep careening back and forth and can’t find a coherent position with a flashlight and a map.

    And probably wouldn’t do any better even if you threw in an ergonomist and a proctologist as full-time consultants.

  • This is entirely predictable. It was right after Nov 2012 when Rubio decided to be a sooner in the 2016 primaries.

    Then he realized that Tea Baggers are upset that the president is still black. This is merely a fulfillment.

    Rubio had no chance whatsoever—he is not a true White Protestant.

  • Pierce R. Butler
  • “We need to reach out to the minorities we hate.”

    “Really? What about our Nativists.”

    “I dunno. Blame Obama when it fails.”

    “Brilliant! That’s sure to appeal to the minorites we hate!”

    “…between the Scylla and Caribdis…”


    Pierce R. Butler “Charybdis!”

    You’re not the boss of him!

  • “His party controlled Congress for two years,” he told Fox News in October, “and they did absolutely nothing.”

    This seems to be a recurring theme.

    Any immigration reform that might have passed the 111th would have done so over strenuous, downright hysterical Republican opposition, and would today be blamed for everything that’s wrong with the country, whether it’s unemployment, the housing market, or the NY Giants. Yet Rubio puts the blame squarely with the Dems for not getting it done anyway.

    It’s fascinating how our political culture simply accepts as normal the idea that the Republicans are on the wrong side of everything and that it’s up to the Democrats to overcome them, as if the Republicans are stupid children whose parents, the Democrats, are responsible for correcting them. What’s even more fascinating is that the Republicans themselves have adopted this attitude.

  • vmanis1

    I appreciate classical references as much as the next intellectual, but don’t you think Scylla and Charybdis are kind of unknown to the modern reader? Perhaps we could update the comparison as being `between Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert? (Though which is the monster and which the whirlpool is still an open question.)

  • Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Isn’t that Standard Operating Procedure for Republicans? They suggest a weak-kneed version of legislation: President Obama agrees to it, gets it passed in the Senate: and then Republicans in Congress, even those who sponsored it, vote against it because the Democrats voted for it.

    Look at the U.S. Military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: the President said he would shut it down. He presented plans for shutting it down and asked Congress for funding: Republicans voted down the funds. No funding for a project — it doesn’t happen. Now they happily blame the Obama Administration for not closing Gitmo the way he promised to!

    Double-damned doublecrossing hypocrites. They just handed Obama another a brace of roods.

  • Markita Lynda—threadrupt, to be fair, if Obama’s for it it must be bad. Heck, even his wife is bad enough that they came out against kids not being so fat.

  • eric

    I don’t know the answer to this, so maybe someone can clarify: did the bill change along the way? I.e., were their liberal or poison pill amendments added, then removed, then added, etc.? If not, this is incredible flip-flopping. But reading those entries, the devil’s advocate in me says ‘most of those flips can be explained perfectly adequately via a consistent ideology responding to various changes to the language of the bill.’

  • @11, The Senate bill passed 68-32 . Marco Rubio voted for it.

    This is not flip-flopping. This is basically Rubio trying to regain his bagger cred that Cruz stole from everyone else during the shutdown.