“House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) poured cold water Thursday on efforts by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to advance immigration reform by suggesting that such a plan would not be able to pass the GOP-led House this year.

“Asked by a reporter whether he thought the House could pass an immigration measure this year that focused on more than just border security, Boehner said: ‘There’s always hope,’

“The speaker said he has spoken to Rubio about his plan. ‘I found it of interest, but the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment. To deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best.'”

***

“Gaby Pacheco, a vocal immigrant activist, accepted a tantalizing invitation last week from an unlikely source: Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wanted her to help craft a bill that could legalize the children of some illegal immigrants.

“Two hours later, Pacheco and other activists got a different pitch from their more familiar White House allies. Be wary of Rubio and his plan, two of President Obama’s top advisers told them in a meeting. It wouldn’t go far enough and wasn’t likely to succeed…

“The plan puts Obama in a box. Democrats are reluctant to see Rubio’s efforts as anything other than a political gambit to repair his party’s tarnished image with Hispanics and boost his own profile as a potential vice-presidential pick or future White House contender.

“But if Obama does not at least try to work with Rubio, he could risk losing a centerpiece of his appeal to Hispanic voters — that he is their fiercest ally in Washington and that the GOP is to blame for lack of action on fixing the country’s immigration ills.”

***

“Despite the hype that the GOP moved to the hard right in the primary, immigration was the main issue where Romney himself did so, sounding a hard conservative line to position himself to the right of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. If there was one issue where he would “flip-flop” back to the center, it’s likely to be immigration.

“Now Rubio is offering both Romney and the GOP a second chance to court Hispanic voters, and putting the White House in a tough spot. The freshman senator may not become Romney’s running mate, but he could be giving him a bigger political gift with his immigration advocacy.”

***

“Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has thrust himself into the raging illegal immigration debate, proposing a plan that would create a path to legal status for children of illegal immigrants — putting him at odds with an immoveable wing of the Republican Party on this issue.

“It’s a risky move for a potential vice presidential candidate, and it puts presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in a pickle as he may have to decide whether to back an immigration plan rolled out by one of the party’s rising Hispanic stars, or stick to the strident anti-illegal immigrant positions he staked out during the Republican primary…

“Asked if Romney needed to lighten up his rhetoric, Rubio said the GOP has to better communicate it’s the pro-immigration party.

“‘Not just Gov. Romney — but in general, over the last five years that [the] Republican Party has come to be viewed as the anti-illegal immigration party.'”

***

“In an interview at his Tucson campaign office earlier this month, [Democrat Richard] Carmona, who is running in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R), had some blunt criticism for Republicans on the topic of illegal immigration.

“‘Why do you think they’re reworking their initial vitriolic, far-right, ‘deport everybody’ (message)?’ he asked. ‘Why? Do you think that all of a sudden there’s an epiphany and their hearts have opened up to people who are struggling? I don’t think so. I think it’s a political calculation – that they recognized they cannot win their races and stay in office unless they embrace the Hispanic community. So, I really feel it’s very disingenuous.’…

“‘Look, look,’ Carmona said. ‘Do you think it just popped up at this time – six, seven months before the election – and everybody goes, ‘Oh gee, let’s embrace these people now’? … So, it’s crazy. The fact of the matter is these are political calculations and the public is fed up with it.'”

***

“So to sum up-

“We’re going to grant the [premise] the Democrats have been running on that this is something we have to act on (separate from border security/enforcement)

“We’re going to do this to try and win votes of voters who will simply say, ‘Um, why should I support your half-assed measure when the other guys are offering me the whole thing?’

“We’d also offer the Democrats a new and exciting line of attack… ‘Republicans think you’re good enough to work for them and fight and die for this country but not to vote’. Some enterprising liberal will no doubt find a way to equate that with slavery. Fun times!

“And while we’re getting no credit or votes from this, we’ll also be doing the Democrats job for them by driving a wedge between members of our party.”

***

“Rubio said the White House has also been ‘actively trying to torpedo my efforts’ by calling in immigration advocates and urging them not to back Rubio’s bill.

“‘I think Speaker Boehner was acknowledging how difficult it is going to be given the highly politicized climate the president is contributing to, and I agree it’s going to be hard to pass,’ Rubio said. ‘But I am hopeful that we are going to come up with an idea [that] makes sense, that calls to Americans’ spirit of humanitarianism, that recognizes that these kids do not have legal right to be here, but that appeals to our conscience.’…

“Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who heads the Senate Democrats’ policy and communication shop, said Boehner’s comments ‘show how far Sen. Rubio has to go in trying to gain Republican support for any proposal to help immigrant students.'”

***