It is painful to watch Marco Rubio’s maneuverings on immigration. He is refusing to say whether he will vote “yes” on his own Gang of Eight bill after spending months drafting, defending, and helping shepherd it to the floor. He has supposedly discovered that the enforcement provisions are inadequate, although he has done countless interviews touting that the bill contains the “toughest immigration-enforcement measures in the history of United States” (which is what his website still says). At the same time, Rubio declares the bill 95–96 percent perfect…

Beyond its treatment of illegal immigrants, the very large expansion in legal immigration that the bill would establish is problematic as well. While there are some persuasive economic arguments in favor of expanding legal immigration, the United States is a nation with an economy, not an economy with a nation. Our failure to fully assimilate new immigrants over the past several decades is not a reflection of our inability but our unwillingness to do so. That some are arguing for this bill as a necessary political sop to Hispanic voters is indicative of the toxic ethnic politics that we should be working to eliminate — and that radically higher levels of immigration would almost certainly entrench.

“How do we put together a bill and then the guy who put it together says that he may not vote for it?” Graham asked me. “I just don’t get what we’re doing here.”

His specific complaint: that GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a fellow member of the Senate “gang of eight” who had spent months drafting a bipartisan immigration reform bill, seemed to be backing away from the legislation.

Rubio said that its border enforcement provisions need to be strengthened — and that he might oppose the bill if he didn’t get strong enough revised language. This infuriated and exasperated Graham, who had joined the gang in the first place to try to do a good legislative deed and also to protect himself politically.

Senator Marco Rubio declined to say who in his office told The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza that “there are some American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it” and downplayed the importance of the now-controversial quote.

“I’m the senator. It’s my bill. I’m the one that votes on these things. I’m the one that makes decisions. Whatever other people want to opine or say to a reporter or somebody else, I can’t control that,” Rubio said…

“I’ve never viewed a guest-worker program as a way to replace Americans,” he added. ”I viewed it as a way for industries to be able to find labor in those industries where there is a shortage of domestic labor.”

“I support Senator Thune’s efforts to require completion of double layered border fencing,” Rubio said in a statement after voting against the amendment. “Properly deployed, these fences have proven highly effective in limiting illegal crossings. That is why the current bill requires $1.5 billion be spent specifically on a border fence plan.”

“However, his amendment does not detail a specific border plan,” Rubio claimed. “Therefore, I opposed his amendment and instead continue to work with my Republican colleagues to arrive at a new measure that improves on the significant border security measures already in the bill.”

In a free market, if a new immigrant worker can do a job better than an American worker for a cheaper price, there shouldn’t be a problem with a business hiring the immigrant. But when the immigration bill interacts with Obamacare’s employer mandate, it functions as a reverse tariff against hiring American citizens. It would be like subjecting Americans to a $3,000 tax on purchasing American cars, while allowing them to avoid that tax by purchasing cars from Germany, Japan, or any other country other than America. That’s not free trade. That’s government rigging the game against American citizens.

Sadly, Rubio, who is losing more and more credibility by the day among conservatives, has shown absolutely no leadership on trying to resolve this problem. When I first reported on the issue in April, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant responded that this was the sort of technical problem that could be fixed through amendments as the bill moved through the legislative process. But the issue was never addressed in the more than 200 amendments offered before the Senate Judiciary committee. None of the listed amendments filed since the bill made it to the Senate floor last week tackle the problem either. Despite this, Rubio declared on Sunday, “I think 95, 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go.” I don’t even think Obama would make such an audacious statement about Obamacare to this day.

Rohrabacher blasted his GOP colleague Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Gang of Eight, for his part in pushing immigration reform.

“Rubio is so confused and so mixed up I think that he has given up his rightful place to advise any of us in Washington what to do, and certainly given up any right to be trusted by the American people,” he said. “It was over and over, contradiction after contradiction, lie after lie.”

Andrea Tantaros asked Sessions on her radio show to respond to reports that Rubio has not been seen with the Gang of Eight in public in over two months. “That’s odd,” Sessions said. “He is the one that’s in everybody’s homes running the ads. Makes you want to say ‘Marco, there’s somebody on the television pretending to be you, saying vote for the bill that you recently said shouldn’t pass in its current form.’”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which strongly opposes the Gang’s bill, says Cruz seems reluctant to play a leading role in the immigration debate. “My sense is Cruz is kind of ambivalent,” Krikorian tells National Review Online. “Not ambivalent necessarily on amnesty — he’s pretty convinced that’s a bad idea — but he doesn’t seem to want to be the face of immigration hawkishness.”…

Still, some think Cruz may be wary of leading the opposition to an effort led by Senator Marco Rubio. “He really has wanted to avoid just turning the debate into a Cruz versus Rubio Hispanic rumble in the GOP,” Krikorian says. Indeed, Cruz has directed most of his criticism at Senate Democrats and President Obama, whom he called “the biggest obstacle to passing commonsense immigration reform.” If Cruz is trying to steer clear of the contrast with Rubio, it’s been successful. The press corps would typically salivate over such a conflict, but it has not received much attention, although USA Today did publish (in May) an article titled “Rubio vs. Cruz: Hispanic Conservatives Battle for GOP’s Soul.”

“Right now people think Marco isn’t ready,” said one Republican donor, who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity. “That could change if he gets immigration done. But so far people aren’t impressed.”

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry countered that whatever the complexities of Rubio’s decision to go all-in on immigration, it ought to remove any suspicion among his critics that the senator’s too green for national leadership.

“As a new senator, I would think that if there were anywhere people would try to attack him, they might say: ‘What have you done?’” Curry said. “The guy has stuck his neck out, literally stuck his neck out on a big issue. It’s demonstrating leadership and I think it’s what people are looking for.”

Curry added: “I think it helps him and I think it helps the Republican brand.”

Rubio’s push on immigration reform is going to get him some insider credit. Faith and Freedom Coalition President Ralph Reed looks favorably upon Rubio’s push. Most donors like Rubio’s new role. He’s also bound to win plaudits from the GOP establishment in the Senate, which is pushing for immigration reform. Overall, this is definitely the correct move for a person who might otherwise be seen as too “outsidery”.

Immigration reform has the additional advantage of being seen as a moderating force. It’s backed by most Americans and is generally supported by the party establishment because it’s seen (rightly or wrongly) as an electoral winner…

So, I think Rubio is making a smart political play by supporting immigration reform so openly. It’s the type of issue that will garner him plaudits from the party establishment – which generally gets to pick Republican nominees. It’ll help to reassure Republicans that he can win, which will likely be a chief concern for primary voters in 2016, as it was in 2012.

At the same time, Rubio can point to other issues where he is an outsider conservative, such as the debt ceiling. Rubio is proving, perhaps, that he knows how to balance the wings of his party correctly.

“I frankly think the Senate bill is weak on border security, I think the internal enforcement mechanisms are weak and the triggers are almost laughable.”

Via the Daily Rushbo.

Via the Right Scoop.