Marco Rubio went on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show this afternoon to assure conservatives that the new immigration bill will help conservatives make the argument for limited government to Hispanics. Even as Limbaugh expressed concerns that it will legalize 9 million new Democratic voters, Rubio said that a political movement ”depends on the ability to convince people that do not agree with you now to agree with you in the future,” and that’s what these reforms will do.
“I’m not prepared to admit that somehow there’s this entire population of people that because of their heritage are not willing to listen to our pitch on why limited government is better,” he said. “I think the evidence is on our side,” Rubio added, citing shared values on social issues, economic opportunity, and entrepreneurship. He encouraged Republicans to stay true to their conservative principles and lead by example, saying that the GOP had strayed away from them in the past.
Though he believed that there were potential political advantages to reforming immigration, Rubio said that that wasn’t the reason he felt that it needed to be addressed. Reform was needed, he said, because the system was structurally broken: “If we didn’t have a single illegal immigrant in the United States, we’d still have to do immigration reform.” He also told Limbaugh that Democrats would bring up immigration to “distract” voters from other issues, so now is the time to work on it.
“It’s an issue the Democrats were going to raise anyway, so we might as well have an alternative, and that’s what we’ve worked on,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep it an alternative that we can support.”