What, If Anything, Has Marco Rubio Learned about Immigration Reform? (Part 1 of 2)

By Stanley Renshon on January 20, 2016

Marco Rubio is, in a number of ways, an attractive presidential candidate. He is young, politically articulate, and brings a quintessential American immigrant success story to his candidacy. In other election cycles, he would be among the top-tier candidates, but he isn't, and the fault is primarily his.

The rather large, and political lethal, mistake he made was to lend his name and talents to the selling of an awful immigration bill, written primarily by Democratic staff members. That bill embodied all that is wrong with attempts at "comprehensive" (read "massive") immigration reform. The bill, written behind closed doors by vested interests in both parties, was gigantic in size and its myriad provisions were lost in complex obscurity and arcane legal language. Its political, economic, and cultural consequences were unexamined, and for good reason. Most of its major provisions — like massive amnesty without much in the way of penalties to balance it, or enormous increases in immigration levels — were precisely what the American public said they didn't want.

Rubio, in his new role as senator, understandably wanted to accomplish something given that his first job on the five-person city commission of West Miami ended in frustration and disappointment.

Sponsoring a major immigration "reform" bill must have seemed liked an obvious and attractive vehicle by which to accomplish something big. Unfortunately, either Rubio didn't perform political due diligence before he lent his name and office to support the bill or he agreed with its basic premises, such as that more immigration is always better and that legalization should come first and then one can deal with the border.

It makes a difference whether Rubio's error was a matter of being in too much of a rush to get something done that he didn't take the time to know the details of this large, crucial issue he put his name to or whether he made an error in believing what then was, and still is, touted as conventional wisdom, or both. In the first case, it's a matter of ambition's impatience. In the second, it's a matter of making a mistake and learning from it. The question there is: Has he?

It's true that recently Rubio has backed away from his support of trying to solve every immigration issue in one large, incomprehensible bill. And he has now taken the position that the border should be secured first, before legalization is enacted. In these two areas he has apparently revised his support for the conventional Democratic immigration "wisdom" he once embraced. He has even conceded that critics of the immigration bill he supported were right.

In these areas he has apparently learned something, even if it is in the school of his own presidential ambitions.

Yet the same cannot be said for his view on the crucial question of who gets to be legalized "after the border is secure".


Read Part 2



Topics: Politics