Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rubio's desperate play on immigration reform

Give him some credit - Sen. Rubio is trying desperately to balance the impossible tension between the need for Republicans to appease Latino voters and the rabid nativist base of his party. But the truth is that his game-playing in an attempt to do that is totally transparent.

Rubio knows that kiss of death on immigration reform for his base is the "path to citizenship" for the 11-12 million undocumented people currently in this country - what they refer to as "amnesty." He also knows that Latino voters committed to immigration reform won't accept a plan unless it includes a path to citizenship.

In the Senate bi-partisan plan that Rubio signed off on - he's already caved on that one.

So he's trying a bait and switch. What Rubio also knows is that what the base of his party wants more than anything is a knock-down battle with President Obama. With a cave on the big one already done, he wants to distract them with another one. Thus...the "triggers" on border security. Here's a statement Rubio released after Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano's testimony yesterday on immigration reform.
If we are going to pass bipartisan immigration reform this year, the Administration must accept the principle that security triggers must be met before anyone who is currently undocumented is allowed to apply for a green card. This is a principle agreed to by the bipartisan group of senators I am working with and it is something that must be included in any legislative proposal if it is to be successful. Secretary Napolitano’s refusal to accept this bipartisan principle at today’s Senate hearing is discouraging for those of us who are serious about permanently fixing America’s immigration system. By continuing to oppose a key security principle with bipartisan backing, Secretary Napolitano and this Administration appear to be laying the groundwork to scuttle the bipartisan effort in the Senate.
The only trouble is, Napolitano didn't refuse to accept the security triggers.
Napolitano told Senators that she thought new border security measures were less important than legalizing undocumented immigrants and cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers and expressed some concern a trigger could get in the way of implementing other reforms. She did not explicitly rule out the idea of a trigger or increased border security, however.
And as we all know, President Obama has embraced the Senate bi-partisan plan.
"The good news is that -- for the first time in many years -- Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together," Obama said in his speech in Las Vegas, according to prepared excerpts.

"And yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I've proposed and campaigned on for the last few years," the president also said. "At this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that's very encouraging."
What will happen is that the "triggers" will be negotiated in a pragmatic way that not many people will really pay attention to. President Obama and Democrats will agree to them amidst howls from the emos about another cave. Rubio will claim a victory in his pretend big battle with President Obama. And immigration reform - including a path to citizenship - will pass the Senate and move on to the House.

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