By Joe Guzzardi
April 7, 2013
For Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the Gang of Eight’s superstar, the moment of truth has arrived. The immigration bill that Rubio and his seven cohorts have been drafting behind closed doors and in Vatican-style secrecy will be announced next week.
Rubio’s quagmire: Should he stay in the Gang to endorse what he now knows will be painfully bad legislation or should he exit stage right, cut his losses and save as much political face as possible at this late hour?
Since Rubio replaced Utah Senator Mike Lee as the Gang’s fourth Republican, nothing has gone his way. Rubio has insisted that the border be secured before illegal aliens are granted permanent residency and eventual citizenship. Department of Homeland Security officials admitted during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that it has no metric to accurately measure border crossings.
Nevertheless, fellow Gang colleague Chuck Schumer publicly embarrassed Rubio when he rejected a secure border as a “trigger.” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano rubbed salt into Rubio’s wounds when she hard-headedly insisted that the border is more secure than ever.
Then, in a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Rubio requested full hearings with input from the public and congressional critics. Leahy rebuffed that idea too and instead disingenuously said that amnesty pros and cons had been vetted during the failed 2006 and 2007 attempts.
In some ways, the 2013 issues are unchanged from years past. But Congress is rehashing the same talking points again today because the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act failed to provide worksite or border enforcement which left the door wide open for 11 million aliens to enter. Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council union that represents ICE agents, guarantees more illegal immigration if the Gang’s bill passes without border enforcement. Leahy isn’t fooling anyone. He’s stonewalling because hearings create delay which in turn exposes the legislation’s flaws and diminishes the chances of it passing. Ramming the bill through is more in keeping with the Gang’s our way or the highway intentions.
If Rubio wants to wiggle of the hook and drop out of the Gang with minimum damage to his political future, he caught a break last week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the disastrous March unemployment statistics on the same day that Capitol Hill insiders leaked the bill’s ugly details. According to mainstream media stories, last month the economy created 88,000 jobs, a miserably low total. However, the more accurate but less quoted household survey found that only 30,000 jobs were created. Through March, nearly 10 million working-age, American-born were unemployed.
Yet defiantly, the Gang’s immigration bill calls for up to 1 million more visas for both low and high skilled foreign-born workers. These new workers would be in addition to 90,000 legal immigrants who arrive monthly. And each of the amnestied aliens would receive instant work authorization and would compete for the few available jobs. Every month, for example, the public employment sector sheds 18,000 jobs. An immigration excess the Gang endorses would sound American workers’ death knell.
If he’s smart enough to capitalize on them, Rubio has two viable escape hatches. First, since Rubio’s unlikely to get either substantive hearings or border enforcement, Rubio can claim foul and plea that the deal in front of him is not the one he originally proposed. Second, Rubio could hold a press conference, read the March unemployment statistics, and then declare the bill bad for America. Rubio might even emerge as a hero.
But, if somehow Rubio thinks it’s impolitic to withdraw, he should remember that Ronald Reagan said that signing IRCA was the worst mistake of his presidency.
Assuming Rubio has presidential aspirations, he should also bear in mind that most of the 11 million the Gang wants to amnesty will vote Democratic.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]