Politico reported this morning that the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” now that its members have unveiled their proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, is “mounting an aggressive lobbying campaign with one major goal: weaken the conservative opposition to a sweeping immigration overhaul.”
That’s no easy task. Whenever a major piece of legislation is poised to make progress, the far-right comes up with a series of bizarre talking points, raising concerns with no basis in reality, which often take root before proponents know what to do about it. Indeed, fears of an imaginary “gun registry” helped kill efforts to prevent gun violence just yesterday, and immigration reform advocates are eager to prevent something similar from happening again.
And that means responded to nonsense such as “MarcoPhones.”
You may recall the right’s ugly preoccupation with the “ObamaPhone” conspiracy theory, which has apparently metastasized – opponents of the bipartisan immigration bill believe Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and his allies intend to give taxpayer-financed cell phones to documented immigrants with work visas. It’s not true.
According to some politicos involved with helping craft this bill, the phones in question are for ranchers and locals that can prove they reside along the border. […]
Rubio told Laura Ingraham that the reported “MarcoPhone” was “not for the illegal immigrant,” but “for the US citizens and residents who live along the border.”
As Ed Kilgore noted, “I’m having trouble feeling bad for Rubio getting a taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a Tea Party delusion.” It’s a good point – Democrats are far more accustomed to having to debunk nonsense like this, or at least try to. I can almost hear Chuck Schumer telling Rubio, “Welcome to my world.”
As for why the right will be so eager to derail the legislation with nonsense, it’s probably because the bill is pretty good. Benjy Sarlin had an informative piece on this the other day.
After months of vague talking points about creating a “path to citizenship” versus a “special path to citizenship” versus “amnesty,” the Senate’s “Gang of 8” finally has an immigration bill ready. And, much to the relief of immigration advocates, there is a relatively clear and reliable process for today’s 11 million undocumented residents to eventually become citizens.
That’s good news for the immigrant rights community. But it also means the Republican members of the gang – Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – have a difficult path ahead convincing a skeptical party that these features are necessary to passing a final bill. Or as one immigration lawyer sympathetic to reform put it to TPM: “Rubio is going to get crucified for agreeing to this.”
Whether it’s accusations about “MarcoPhones” or something else, expect the bill to get the full death-panel treatment in the coming months. From a progressive perspective, the proposal is far from perfect, but the pushback from the right will nevertheless be fierce.