The leading Republican on the issue is Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and his office told reporters today that they’ve had no consultation with the White House on the issue of immigration.
“President Obama and the White House staff are not working with Republicans on immigration reform,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said in an email to reporters. “Senator Rubio’s office has never discussed immigration policy with anyone in the White House.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney disputed that. “We have been in contact with everybody involved in this effort on Capitol Hill,” he said.
A lot of people are noticing that Marco Rubio’s immigration reform plan has a lot in common with President Obama’s immigration reform plan, which Rubio denounced as “half-baked.” This is not good for Rubio, who is almost certainly running for president in 2016 (if you need further evidence, check out the tour of the Middle East he’s on right now) and would need to keep conservative voters happy to make it through the primary. So Rubio’s office is insisting the two plans are not alike at all — and their offices haven’t even spoken.
President Obama did some political outreach Tuesday, phoning key Republican senators on immigration.
Obama spoke with a former GOP presidential candidate — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — and perhaps a future one, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-S.C.
“The President reiterated that he remains supportive of the effort underway in Congress, and that he hopes that they can produce a bill as soon as possible that reflects shared core principles on reform,” said a White House statement…
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said the senator “appreciated receiving President Obama’s phone call to discuss immigration reform late tonight in Jerusalem. The Senator told the President that he feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate, and is hopeful the final product is something that can pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support.”
A draft of the White House immigration bill was leaked over the weekend, detailing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that would take about 13 years after the passage of the bill to complete, policy experts say…
Overall, the draft bill’s path to legalization is essentially in line with the proposal by the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight, with one big exception. The Senate plan makes legalization contingent on “securing the border” according to benchmarks that have yet to be laid out in detail. President Obama has refused such requirements.
That conflict over border security has been a sore spot for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who blasted the White House draft bill over the weekend as “half baked.” But policy experts and advocates believe that Obama and the Senate gang are far closer than the rhetoric suggests. “I don’t think fundamentally there is that much difference among these proposals,” says Chishti.
Both Rubio and Obama, for instance, support special pathways to residency for those students and soldiers who were brought illegally to this country as children. In the White House draft legislation, the proposal closely resembles what’s known as the DREAM Act…
Also the [White House] draft bills obtained by The Herald and USA Today show that, contrary to Rubio’s concern, the plan wouldn’t give illegal immigrants a chance to obtain citizenship before those who lawfully entered the country…
Aside from the emphasis on border security, there appears to be relatively little in the White House draft proposals that conflicts with what Rubio wants…
U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat from Miami, said the president’s proposal is “a good place to start. It encompasses everything Rubio’s talking about. Except it has Obama’s name on it.”
Not wanting to be seen as a shill for a Democratic President’s signature achievement, Rubio’s strategy from the start has been to play up his differences with the White House as much as possible. This weekend’s outburst was only the latest incident: in interviews with the Wall Street Journal, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative thought leaders, Rubio has positioned himself as the right-wing antidote to a far-left White House on immigration.
This touring indignation act isn’t just for Rubio’s own benefit. The Republicans he needs to win over to pass a bill will be a lot more comfortable if they think they’re somehow thumbing their nose at Obama by voting for it. We’ve seen this dynamic on other issues in recent weeks, most notably the debt ceiling, where conservative Republicans delivered a lot of macho partisan talk about a bill that was objectively a huge cave to the White House. If a compromise bill ends up passing, expect to see a lot of statements from Republicans supporters about how they stopped some non-existent White House “amnesty” bill.
“An Obama plan, led and driven by Obama in this atmosphere, with the level of hostility toward the president and the way he goads the hostility, I think it is very hard to imagine that bill, that his bill is going to pass the House,” Gingrich said. But he added that a bill originating in the Senate “could actually get to the president’s desk.”
I believe Gingrich is right. Republican members of Congress have shown a willingness, even an eagerness, to vote against measures that they themselves have sponsored in the past — if Obama is now proposing them.
So if the president really wants immigration reform to pass, one of the most helpful things he could do is put out his own plan as a decoy, to draw Republican fire, while the Senate works toward bipartisan consensus. Which looks suspiciously like what just happened.
The “backup plan” stuff is nonsense — the point of leaking the [White House] bill is to enable Rubio to say that his amnesty plan is waaay different from the dastardly Obama plan, even though they’re identical in the only respect that matters: amnesty immediately for all illegal aliens, with work cards, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, the right to travel abroad and return, etc. The president has repeatedly said he wants to stand back and let Congress come up with a bill because if he were to send one to Congress it would be toxic for Republicans — i.e., those Republicans who desperately want to sell out their constituents by backing amnesty but are afraid of the voter backlash. The Rubio and Ryan criticisms of the proposed bill sound almost as though they were scripted by Schumer and White House to make the Senate Gang of Eight scheme seem more palatable to such Republicans…
This whole gambit is so transparent even Talking Points Memo is commenting on it. Immigration hawks would do well not to get sucked into this phony controversy. Obama’s bill is Rubio’s bill.
The only real difference between Obama and Rubio appears to be whether or not a border security “trigger” should be met before those here illegally now could become citizens. But even this is not that big a deal. White House spokesman Josh Earnest has already admitted that while Obama does not prefer a trigger, he will sign a bill that contains one.
And Obama’s willingness to include a trigger is not surprising, considering how utterly worthless any such measure would be. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., conceded as much last week when he told Univision that the satisfaction of any trigger requirement would ultimately be up to whoever was Department of Homeland Security Secretary at the time. And how secure does Secretary Janet Napolitano think our border is now? “Our borders have, in fact, never been stronger,” she testified to Congress last week.
Either Rubio is trying to lay the groundwork for pulling out of the Gang of Ocho immigration group, or amnesty is already a done deal.
I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but it’s hard not to see at least a shadow of a good-cop/bad-cop routine in the reaction of the Gang of Eight to President Obama’s leaked blueprint for “comprehensive immigration reform.” Obama’s plan differs in largely trivial ways from the gang of Eight’s proposal — it would allow illegal immigrants to apply for permanent-residence status after eight years on probationary status, whereas the Gang of Eight’s proposal makes the transition from probationary status to permanent-residence status conditional on a yet-to-be-named commission certifying that the border is secure. That distinction is all but irrelevant in the practical realm. Both proposals send the message to intending illegal aliens that the U.S. is still doling out amnesties — and the most important amnesty is the immediate probationary status in both plans that immunizes illegal aliens already here from enforcement (and that grants them legal presence inside the country ahead of intending legal immigrants still waiting outside the country for permission to enter). The chance that under either the Gang of Eight or Obama’s plan an illegal alien on probationary status will lose that status, short of committing a heinous crime, is zero. However much it might hurt Americans’ feelings, American citizenship is not a high priority for Hispanic immigrants, legal and illegal, who have historically had a very low rate of naturalization. Only Proposition 187 in California increased Hispanics’ naturalization rate. And the difference between probationary status and permanent residency under the Gang of Eight’s proposal does not appear to be particularly significant, either…
The other important message that both plans send out is to illegal-alien advocates in the U.S.: protest works. Since the 2006 spring amnesty protests, the delegitimizing of enforcement has only gathered steam. Do not expect enforcement to become relegitimized after the next amnesty; rather, it will become even more stigmatized as unfair to its targets and a separator of families.