A leftover from yesterday. WaPo calls this a “hardening” of his position, which is true in the same way that jello is harder than water. Previously Rubio’s position was that DACA, Obama’s 2012 amnesty for DREAMers, will end in due time — hopefully because Congress will have passed something in the meantime to replace it. As Julia Hahn noted, that sounds like Barack Obama’s position that executive amnesty will be the status quo until the legislative branch comes up with something better. The last thing Rubio needs amid his mini-surge after the last debate is a new uproar over immigration while undecideds are taking a closer look at him, so here’s his new position: DACA will end once he’s president, whether Congress replaces it with legislation or not. And when will it end? “At some point.”
Border hawks like me are enjoying watching him wobble on the tightrope over this. Also enjoying it: Hillary Clinton.
We should not put 650,000+ promising young people at risk for deportation. Sen. Rubio is wrong on this. -H https://t.co/763Ok5xBtS
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 5, 2015
If he tilts too far left, Trump and the rest of the anti-amnesty GOP base will slaughter him for selling out on immigration again. If he tilts too far right, Hillary will slaughter him for being a captive of the Latino-hating tea party or whatever, notwithstanding the fact that Rubio was Chuck Schumer’s best buddy during the Gang of Eight fiasco and voted for that bill even after it was clear that conservatives were angry. Hillary’s campaign will be pure demagoguery in all directions to mask the fact that 15+ years in federal office have produced not a single real achievement; you’re seeing that now as she desperately tries to paint far-left Bernie Sanders as a sexist and you’ll see it robustly if Rubio’s the nominee when she tries to paint the first Latino major-party primary winner as anti-Latino. That’s why he’ll probably ignore Mark Krikorian’s advice on how to earn back some goodwill from the right:
He could achieve this with three steps: 1) Explicitly, without weaselly politician-talk, pledge that no legalization will be even debated until certain enforcement benchmarks have been met, like fully operational E-Verify and visa-tracking systems, plus two independent, outside estimates showing three consecutive years of decline in the illegal population. 2) Acknowledge that he agrees with Jeff Sessions that current immigration levels are too high, which he can square with his call for more merit-based selection criteria by cutting the chain-migration and lottery categories by 250,000, but increasing skilled immigration by 50,000. And 3) say that he still thinks an expanded temporary worker program is a good idea, but any program would have to be based on principles like those outlined by Ed Meese during the Bush amnesty fight, to prevent the program from leading to permanent settlement or illegal immigration.
I think he might go for steps (1) and (3) but it’s hard to imagine him calling for less legal immigration. Eighty percent of his stump speech is about America being a beacon of hope that calls to all free people, whether they’re raised here or abroad. How’s he going to transition from that to “we need less foreigners”? And would anyone believe it given his history? It’d be Scott Walker all over again, except worse since Walker never had a black eye like the Gang of Eight on his record. Even famous border hawk Ted Cruz is leery of making it too easy for Democrats to accuse him of opposing all forms of immigration rather than illegal immigration specifically, which is why he tried to increase rather than decrease the annual cap on H-1B visas. In fact, I think Cruz is the X factor when it comes to how much Rubio will suffer on immigration during the primaries: Having vowed to rescind Obama’s executive amnesty as president, will Cruz join Trump in coming after Rubio for being too soft on DACA? Or will Cruz, anticipating the attacks in the general election if he goes after young illegals, decide that it’s best to lay off Rubio for being soft on DACA and DREAMers and stick to attacking him for the Gang of Eight bill instead?
Exit question: If, as many Republicans argue, DACA is unconstitutional, why would any Republican president not rescind it on day one?