Immigration, [Condoleezza] Rice added, was the “big issue.”
“Frankly, we sent some pretty bad signals around immigration. George W. Bush, John McCain, Jon Kyl, and Ted Kennedy had an immigration bill in 2007 and it failed. And I felt at that moment that that was the real missed opportunity. We’ve got to get comprehensive immigration reform back on the agenda.”
Praising Republicans, like Marco Rubio, who have been speaking out about immigration, Rice also made it clear that she felt certain components of the GOP platform, such as fiscal values, defense, federalism, and individual responsibility, were “widely popular among the American people.”
“But if you send messages that there are whole segments of the population that are not welcome, not only is it bad politics, but it’s bad policy because without immigration, robust immigration, we have the same sclerotic demographics of Japan and Europe,” Rice remarked. “The Republican party has both a political and a policy problem.”
Proponents of comprehensive immigration reform, who mainly reside on the left, are surprised that Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has generated so much positive buzz from conservatives…
“He’s doing an awesome job of bringing along conservatives and bringing along conservatives in the media,” said Frank Sharry, the founder of America’s Voice, which advocates for comprehensive reform. “He’s making enormous progress in making reform palatable to people on the right in a way that no one has before.”…
Critics of proposals granting legal status to illegal immigrants say Rubio’s blueprint is unacceptable, based on what they know. So far Rubio has only sketched out his vision in interviews and has yet to introduce legislation.
“We have some major issues with what it looks like he’s doing in some areas. This is not something we would endorse,” said Rosemary Jenks, director of government affairs at NumbersUSA, a group that opposed past efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“The party is hungry for a leader who can unite us. The party and the country is hungry for that,” said Republican strategist Henry Barbour, who is co-chairing a review of the national party’s 2012 campaign and coming up with a blueprint for future elections. “Addition not subtraction wins elections. I’m focused on 2013 and 2014, but the more Rubio shows he can unite our party, the more interesting he will be to people thinking about 2016.”…
“Mending course on immigration is a requirement for Republicans to be able to successfully engage Latino voters,” said Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns at the National Council of La Raza, a leading Hispanic advocacy group. “If they stay on the path they are on, they are on their way to political irrelevance.”…
“He has the potential to be a force for building the space in which Republicans are meaningfully considering resolutions to this problem,” said Martinez-De-Castro. “The expectations are high for his leadership on this.”
Mr. Rubio laid out three [principles]: aside from fair treatment for foreigners who play by the rules, he said, any legislation should also recognize that legal immigration has been a boon to the United States in the past and is “critical to our future.” He would also insist on new measures to ensure strict enforcement at the border and within the country…
Mr. Rubio said he would seek to reorient the visa system to bring in more educated immigrants with skills in technology and science. As for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, Mr. Rubio said, “We have to understand these folks are here to stay.” He added that most of them had not committed serious or violent crimes.
“The right way to deal with them is not amnesty,” Mr. Rubio said, “and it is not a special pathway to citizenship.” Instead, he said, he would offer a provisional legal status to immigrants who passed criminal background checks, paid fines and passed English and civics tests.
But, he said, “ultimately it’s not good for our country to have people permanently trapped in that status where they can’t become citizens.” After a certain period, he said, immigrants would be allowed to apply through the existing system to become legal permanent residents, a status that would eventually allow them to become citizens.
Immigration reform legislation must include a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s illegal immigrants, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday…
“There will be nothing done in my Senate [on immigration reform] without a pathway to citizenship,” Reid said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun…
“We have spent a huge amount of money on border security, and both our northern and southern borders are more secure,” Reid said. “Frankly, Mexico is doing much better economically, and that has helped the issue a lot. We can’t build a fence of 3,000 miles because no matter how high we build it, they can build a ladder taller than that fence. So I think we have about expended our energy on border security.”
He acknowledged that major pieces of his plan remain to be worked out. According to current federal visa rosters, most Mexican-born immigrants applying to become permanent residents now face a wait of at least 17 years to receive their document — known as a green card — even if they followed the rules and were approved. Mr. Rubio’s proposal could add seven million more Mexican immigrants to those backlogs. The path to citizenship he proposes for illegal immigrants could be several decades long.
“I don’t have a solution for that question right now,” Mr. Rubio said. He said he would seek to relieve backlogs by speeding up green cards for immigrants already in the legal line, not by creating special pathways for illegal immigrants.
Mr. Rubio’s principles did not sound very different from outlines for an overhaul that President Obama has offered. And the senator, whose star is rising rapidly in his party, chose not to hammer on his differences with the White House.
Unfortunately, the few specifics Rubio has named are almost identical to the failed amnesty plans of Presidents Bush and Obama. Don’t take my word for it — just ask Miami Herald political reporter Marc Caputo, or pro-amnesty Mother Jones reporter Adam Serwer, or anti-amnesty Center for Immigration Studies chief Mark Krikorian. All of them have compared the Obama and Rubio immigration plans, and all of them have concluded the two plans are almost identical…
Both Obama and Rubio swear up and down that their “path to citizenship,” as they call it, is not amnesty because those here illegally today would have to jump through a series of hoops before they obtained legal status. Both Obama and Rubio would require illegal immigrants to: prove they were in the United States for a lengthy period of time, undergo a background check, pay a fine, pay back taxes and prove they have learned English.
But even these minimal requirements would obviously never be enforced. Just imagine if a grandmother came forward, passed a background check, paid her taxes and fines but failed her English test. Would Rubio deport her? Of course not. As Rubio admitted above, no one is going to vote for you if you threaten to deport their grandmother.
“If the president really wants to make a difference,” Santorum said on This Week, “he’ll lead with immigration. because there’s not a single Republican up on Capitol Hill who believes he wants to get it done. They all believe … he will put a measure that the Republicans can’t accept and blame Republicans and then continue to drive a wedge between Republicans and Hispanics and if he changes that and if he changes that and he says, ‘No, I’m willing to actually work together and get something that we can all agree on,’ he will change the tone on Capitol Hill.”
Santorum also stressed that Republicans were ready to act on immigration.
“I think the Republicans are ready to do something on immigration,” he said. “You saw Marco Rubio’s plan which is pretty far down the road. It looks a lot like what President Bush put forward four years ago.”
So, in considering what can now accurately be referred to as the Obama-Rubio-Ryan amnesty plan of 2013, there’s one central question that Rubio and Ryan need to be asked: Do they trust President Obama to enforce the immigration laws in the future, after today’s illegals have been legalized?…
And if the answer is “no,” i.e., that Rubio and Ryan don’t trust Obama to enforce whatever deal they manage to push through Congress, then why won’t we just end up with another 11 million illegal aliens a few years down the road?
This isn’t some nit I’m picking — it’s central to the whole concept of “comprehensive immigration reform.” If you trust Obama to do the right thing, then, by all means, endorse his plan for amnesty, as Rubio and Ryan have done. But if you don’t trust him to keep his word, if you think all his statements come with an expiration date, then there’s no honest way you can back his approach.