It was just two years ago that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) partnered with Democrats on a comprehensive immigration reform package, which was supposed to be the Floridian’s signature issue and ticket to national prominence. Soon after, however, his party turned against the compromise, prompting Rubio to abandon his own bill and betray his allies in advance of his presidential campaign.
With this in mind, it came as something of a surprise to see Rubio, of all people, admonishing Donald Trump for reversing course on immigration for the sake of political expediency. Politico reported:
Rubio was asked on Fox News about a poll in Florida showing Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush trailing Trump in their home state. Rubio said it had absolutely nothing to do with Trump’s stances on immigration. […]“Well first of all, Donald was a supporter of amnesty and the DREAM Act, he changed his position on those issues just to run for president,” Rubio said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
For those wondering why Rubio isn’t already running away with the Republican nomination, keep moments like these in mind.
The same candidate who was an enthusiastic proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, who then clumsily transitioned to an enthusiastic critic of his own proposal, is now whining about someone else changing their position “just to run for president.”
Kim Kardashian shouldn’t complain about others seeking too much publicity; Lance Armstrong shouldn’t accuse others of using performance-enhancing drugs; and Marco Rubio should avoid accusing others of flip-flopping on immigration.
Indeed, on literally the same day Rubio criticized Trump for reversing course on the DREAM Act, the Florida senator, a former DREAM Act supporter, announced his intention to scrap President Obama’s protections for DREAM Act kids and leave them subject to deportation.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said on Wednesday that if he becomes president he’ll end protections for undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country illegally during their youth – even if Congress doesn’t act.“It will have to end at some point,” the Republican candidate said after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, referring to President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which applies to so-called “Dreamers.”
Rubio specifically said the “ideal” solution would be some kind of “reform system,” but if Congress does nothing, the senator added that the existing policy “will end” – because a Rubio administration has no intention of leaving it in place.
This would be a striking position for any national candidate, but the fact that Rubio has adopted such a posture, after pushing so aggressively in the exact opposite direction, is just stunning. Salon noted yesterday, “It’s the question of what to do with DREAMers that separates the immigration hardliners from the true xenophobes.”
Quite right. Rubio is siding with the latter, even when dealing with children for whom the United States is the only home they’ve ever known.
The senator boasted in New Hampshire last night, “No one can argue that I’m not compassionate toward immigrants. My entire family is immigrants.”
Except, that’s not a coherent argument. Political leaders don’t show fealty to a cause by pointing to their lineage, they prove it with their policy work and substantive positions. Either a presidential candidate shows support for immigrants or he/she doesn’t. Familial history is irrelevant.
In electoral terms, Rubio wants GOP voters to believe he’ll fare well with voters in immigrant communities because of his ethnicity. What he can’t explain is why these same voters would back a candidate who betrayed them with unnerving ease in order to pander to anti-immigrant extremists.