Is this true? And if it is, isn’t destroying immigration reform the whole point from Obama’s point of view? The reaction in Washington to an executive mega-amnesty of five million people or more is unpredictable but has lots of upside for Democrats. If the GOP responds by angrily declaring reform dead until there’s a Republican in the White House, that’s fine for Dems. That makes it easier for them to campaign in 2016 among Latinos as the only party that’s done anything to normalize illegals. If instead the GOP panics and responds by clamoring for comprehensive reform next year in the House so that Republicans can share some credit for amnesty before 2016, that’s fine for Democrats too. They’ll still get most of the credit — it was Obama’s executive order that jarred the GOP into action, they’ll say — and meanwhile they’ll finally have an official congressionally authorized amnesty on the books, removing the legal cloud over Obama’s act.
The X factor here: What if public reaction to O’s order is ferociously negative, producing a GOP wave in November? Democrats haven’t quite gamed that one out yet.
After the experience of the last 18 months, I have become convinced that there is no realistic path forward on comprehensive reform for the foreseeable future. Instead, it is clear to me now that the only approach that has any chance of success is one that addresses our immigration problems in a series of sequential pieces of legislation…
Your decision in 2012 to institute the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was a major impediment to passage of the kind of immigration reform our nation needs. No matter what we tried to do to institute meaningful enforcement measures in the Senate bill, opponents pointed to DACA as evidence of your unwillingness to enforce the law. They argued that no matter what we wrote into law on enforcement, your administration would simply ignore it.
Furthermore, your pursuit of unilateral action in the midst of an election year, without any concern for the policy ramifications, has played a significant role in the humanitarian and security crisis that has been occurring on our border with Mexico.
That is not my opinion, but rather the opinion of the Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, who pointed to the “ambiguity” of America’s immigration laws – which DACA exacerbated – as having a direct impact on the immigration crisis we now see playing out on our borders. While it is true legally that those who are arriving are not eligible to relief under DACA, coyotes and human traffickers do not share the details of our immigration laws and policies with those they seek to exploit. In fact, data released by your administration, shows a consistent increase in the number of unaccompanied minor children crossing our southern border following the implementation of DACA. The arrival of more than 56,000 unaccompanied minor children through June of this year alone, and more than 74,000 since 2012, proves that many of them believe it.
The fact that Rubio’s now endorsing a piecemeal, sequential “security first” option is getting media attention today but it’s really nothing new. His retreat from comprehensive reform has been a long one. He was talking up a sequential approach last October, with the ink on the Gang of Eight bill newly dry, after he temporarily became border hawks’ public enemy number one. Some of his staff praised a sequential approach even before he got involved in the Gang of Eight. Note the statement here from Alex Conant, just a few weeks after Election Day 2012, about Rubio’s preference on how to handle immigration. Whether you think that’s an honest description of his beliefs or just savvy messaging by his team, talking up the sort of piecemeal reform that conservatives like while pursuing the opposite with Chuck Schumer, I leave for you to judge. Either way, Rubio’s been making skeptical noises about O’s executive amnesty all year to signal to righties that he’s back on the border security team. Here’s something from January, and then something more from April. The only thing that’s changed between now and then, really, is that now he has some empirical evidence via the border crisis that executive amnesties are a really bad idea.
But wait. We can’t let him off this easily. If Rubio thinks executive amnesty is a potentially fatal blow to immigration reform in Congress, why on earth did he say this last summer?
“I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, he will be tempted to issue an executive order like he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen. Now, we won’t get an E-Verify, we won’t get any border security. But he’ll legalize them,” the Florida senator told Tallahassee radio host Preston Scott…
“Unless we’re going to try to round up and deport 11 million people — something that not even the most vociferous opponent of the [Senate] bill proposed — then we are going to have to at some point address this issue,” Rubio said. “We can’t leave, in my mind, the way it is. Because I think a year from now we could find ourselves with all 11 million people here legally under an executive order from the president, but no E-Verify, no more border security, no more border agents, none of the other reforms that we desperately need.”
That was prescient in one sense — here we are a year later, in exactly the position he described — but pitiful in another. Clearly Rubio was implying that Congress should go ahead and pass comprehensive reform in order to preempt executive action by Obama. He saw the White House’s blackmail attempt coming from a mile away (“give us what we want or we’ll take what we want”) and basically counseled appeasing them. If it was a smart idea to get half a loaf last year by passing the Gang of Eight bill and preempting O, why isn’t it a smart idea now? Why doesn’t Rubio tell Obama in his open letter today, “Yes! I’m ready to work with you on a deal. Please, just don’t issue that order!”? I don’t get it. Is it because some media outlets, liberals among them, are waking up to the fact that O’s order would be legally dubious, giving Rubio and the GOP some political space in which to push back? That’s fine if so, but why wasn’t Rubio pounding that point himself last year instead of nudging Congress to pass something before Obama gets angry?
Here’s video of a bunch of a DREAMers confronting him during a speech in South Carolina. Greg Sargent and other lefties are grumbling that his response, about people not having a right to come to America illegally, means Rubio hates DREAMers now or something and therefore the GOP is crazier than evah on immigration. In fact, one of the last lines of Rubio’s letter to O mentions DREAMers as one of the many sympathetic groups caught up in America’s immigration snafu: “The ‘dreamers’ who graduated at the top of their class but face an uncertain future.” If Sargent and other Dems want to tell themselves that this guy’s going to start deporting DACA enrollees as president, they’re kidding themselves. But we all need motivations to vote, real or imagined.