He’s addressed this topic before but we should start paying extra attention to his public comments about it, and not just because he’s the clear choice for nominee at this point among much of the Republican commentariat. (And probably soon to be the clear choice of the donor class, if he isn’t already.) We have a new Speaker of the House of Representatives, elected this very day, who’d have some key common ground with President Rubio. They’re both in their mid-40s, both center-right, both Mitt Romney allies, both one-time heartthrobs of the conservative base, and both now viewed suspiciously primarily because of one verrry important departure from right-wing orthodoxy that they share. A Rubio/Ryan legislative partnership would be … interesting, potentially great on fiscal reform. And potentially, ahem, not so great on immigration.
The good news here is that Rubio stands firm in vowing to get rid of Obama’s amnesty for the parents of DREAMers despite the fact that he’s at ground zero of American media’s pro-illegal propaganda effort. Granted, he couldn’t really do otherwise: If he had flipped under questioning from Ramos after vowing to rescind Obama’s order earlier this year, border hawks would have gone thermonuclear — even though few of them, me included, think Rubio’s serious about keeping this promise. That’s the bad news. In fact, I’ll remind you that he said this in an interview in 2013, while the Gang of Eight bill was still before the Senate:
“Here’s my big worry,” Rubio told me during an interview while the bill was making its way through the Senate. “I fear that if this thing fails, the president will basically say to anyone in the U.S. who has been here more than three years, who has not committed a serious crime…he’ll say, ‘We’ll do for you what we did for the DREAM kids.’ And the problem with that will be you will have 10 million people legalized in the United States by executive order, so that when there is a new president, if it is a conservative, a Republican, one of the first decisions they will have to make is whether to yank that status from those people and deport them. I cannot imagine a scenario where a future president is going to take away the status they’re going to get. I believe it’s what [Obama] will do. Maybe not all 10 million, but he’ll do it for six million.”
A year later, Obama fulfilled Rubio’s prediction. At the time, though, this was Rubio’s way of playing good cop/bad cop with Obama: Either the right could accept half a loaf from the Gang of Eight “good cops” by tolerating comprehensive reform or the “bad cop” would legalize everyone on his own and border hawks would get nothing on border security. The “bad cop” did just that, leaving Rubio’s other prediction hanging in the balance. How could a new Republican president start his term in office by declaring political war over amnesty and dissolving Obama’s executive order? The Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) will go berserk, sensing a golden opportunity to pull Latino voters further to the left and to damage the new administration before it’s had time to address any of its other foreign or domestic priorities. The only way to prevent that if you’re President Rubio is to make rescission of Obama’s order part of a deal in which it’s immediately reinstated legislatively in some form via a comprehensive bill. Having Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan as partners would make that quite feasible. And remember: As far as I know, despite his many hedges about the Gang of Eight bill after it collapsed, Rubio’s never categorically ruled out another stab at comprehensive reform. He’s never pronounced it a bad idea that shouldn’t be revisited. What he’s said is that it’s politically impossible right now and therefore we shouldn’t waste time on it. Is it still politically impossible with Speaker Ryan in office and Rubio in the White House?
What Rubio won’t say but what he and every other GOP candidate are hoping is that the courts are going to blow up Obama’s amnesty before the next election. If the Supremes dissolve the new legal status for parents of DREAMers, hey. Take it up with your buddy John Roberts, Democrats. Exit question: Rubio notes towards the middle here that most of the calls to his office complaining about immigration are from legal immigrants who resent that illegals get to stay in the United States while they’re stuck in limbo outside the country, waiting years for admission. That’s a great line, but wasn’t it also true in 2013? If so, why did Rubio support a bill that would have legalized illegals anyway?