Friday, January 18, 2013

Rubio Steps up on Immigration

I regularly mock Marco Rubio here, because I think he is just another ambitious empty suit whose every move is calculated to get him the keys to the White House. He can spout vapid nonsense with the best of them, especially when asked a yes-no question like whether he believes in evolution.

But the advantage to such people is that they can read polls, and they like to have legislative "accomplishments" they can point to in their campaign literature. Marco Rubio has, it seems, been reading polls. He sees that most Americans favor some sort of immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have been in the country for years. He also sees that Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, and that to compete for those votes himself he needs something more than a Spanish surname. So he has come forward with an immigration plan that, says the Post, differs from Obama's only in details:
Specifically, while both envision a pathway to citizenship, they appear to part ways on how tortuous it should be. Mr. Obama would have illegal immigrants pay a fine, learn English and clear criminal background checks before “earning” citizenship. Mr. Rubio would have them jump through roughly the same hoops — but only to qualify for an interim legal status, from which they could emerge some time later by applying for green cards as a path to citizenship. Same endgame, different timetable.

In fact, nothing in Mr. Rubio’s proposal is terribly novel; it’s a tweaked version of what many Democrats have wanted for years. It includes tough border controls; employment verification; a workable guest-worker program; and more visas for highly skilled science, tech and engineering graduates. Mr. Rubio even said that he would not insist on chopping his proposals into separate bills, in recognition that the White House and immigration advocates will accept nothing short of a package deal.
My first thought, of course, was, "but it will die in the House." Maybe not,  though, since Rep. Paul Ryan has just endorsed Rubio's approach, and it also has the backing of many conservative pundits. It's encouraging, but there is still a long way to go.

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