Marco Rubio is a rising star in the Republican Party. Or so we have been told. He overcame great odds to win one of Florida’s seats in the United States Senate. At the time, he was considered a Tea Party candidate and his name was easily tossed around in Republican circles as a possible future candidate for Vice President or President. He was admired for being willing to take on the establishment. People liked him a lot and expected great things from him in the Senate. It seemed that his only trajectory was upward and now he is being vetted for the possibility of joining the Romney campaign as his Vice President.
Did I mention that Marco Rubio is of Cuban descent? That’s right, he is Hispanic and because of that, immigration was certain to be on his radar. Sure enough, he brought it up earlier this year. He wanted to pass his version of the DREAM Act and give temporary legal status to the DREAM children of illegal immigrants. Hardline immigration hawks quickly pounced on Rubio, declaring him to be a traitor, etc. Clearly, they wanted nothing to do with Rubio’s push on immigration reform. It should be noted that the version of the DREAM Act being pushed by Marco Rubio did not propose giving outright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Neither did it put them on the path to citizenship. Those two facts seemed to be lost on many people.
Then, along came President Obama and his somewhat surprising decision to stop the deportation of the children of illegal immigrants. This move will also give temporary legal status to these children and allow them to get a legal job in America. There is really no need to go back over and hash out the details of the President’s new policy. We are all well aware of what he has done and most of us will certainly agree that he went about this the wrong way, even if we happen to agree with the end result.
What I want to focus on this morning is Marco Rubio and his thoughts about this issue, as outlined in a speech he gave on Friday to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). He spoke shortly before President Obama addressed the crowd and I found his speech to be more than a little enlightening. This is taken from The Washington Times.
In a stern address seeking to reclaim elusive middle ground on immigration, Sen. Marco Rubio told Hispanic leaders on Friday that they need to elevate the issue beyond the political firestorm of the presidential campaign and instead work to rebuild trust with voters.
Mr. Rubio, a freshman senator from Florida who is considered a rising star in Florida politics, criticized those in his own party who he said he’s seen turn the issue “into panic, and turn that panic into fear and anger, and turn that anger into votes and money.”
But he said Democrats also treat the issue one-sidedly, rejecting legitimate concerns over illegal immigration by calling their adversaries anti-immigrant.
“As long as this issue of immigration is a political ping pong that each sides uses to win elections and influence votes, I’m telling you, it won’t get solved. Because there are too many people that have concluded that this issue unresolved is more powerful. They want it to stay unresolved.”
Can we honestly say we can find room for disagreement with what Marco Rubio said in his speech? I have often speculated that the issue of immigration would never be solved because our politicians had no real interest in doing so. I believe what Rubio has described in his speech is the truth. Both sides of this issue have too much at stake to actually do the hard work it will take to put the issue of immigration behind us in the history books. But wait, there’s more.
Mr. Rubio said he’d tried to work on a version of the Dream Act — legislation that would grant legal status to illegal immigrant students and young adults. While Democratic versions would grant a full path to citizenship to those illegal immigrants, Mr. Rubio had talked about a lesser status that would make them legal but not allow them to be the chain for sponsoring other family members.
He said he found Republicans still too bruised from the last major immigration fight in 2007 to work with him, and found Democrats too unwilling to compromise on their demand for broad citizenship rights.
“I was accused of supporting apartheid,” he said. “Of course a few months later the president takes a similar idea and implements it through executive action, and now it’s the greatest idea in the world. I don’t care who get the credit — I don’t — but it exposes the fact that this issue is all about politics for some people.”
Many in the conservative blogsphere gave up on Marco Rubio the minute he announced he would like to see a version of the DREAM Act become law. He was denounced, berated, and otherwise pounced on. All because he recognizes this issue as one that needs a real solution, recognizing that the solution is not going to be an easy one, and daring to take it on. Agree or disagree with his stance, you have to give him credit for being willing to tackle immigration at all.
I can’t tell you what the answer to our illegal immigration problem is. I do know we can not deport the millions of illegal immigrants we have in this country. Not without a major show of force, and even then, there is no guarantee of the results. Is helping these children and young adults, the targets of the President’s new policy, and Marco Rubio’s version of the DREAM Act the right thing to do? Or should we just bring out the National Guard, the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Department of Immigration Enforcement? Should we round them up in droves and send them back to their countries of origin?
Looking past the probable disagreements some of us may have on the issue of illegal immigration and the solutions it will take to solve that issue, I suspect the answers to these questions are a lot harder than any of us would care to admit.