A spokesman for Senator Marco Rubio yesterday compared the status of illegal immigrants in the United States under current law to that of slaves prior to emancipation.
In a Twitter exchange with Washington Examiner columnist Conn Carroll, Rubio press secretary Alex Conant said, “We haven’t had a cohort of people living permanently in US without full rights of citizenship since slavery.”
@conncarroll We haven't had a cohort of people living permanently in US without full rights of citizenship since slavery.
— Alex Conant (@AlexConant) April 21, 2013
Conant’s remark elicited an immediate response, as Carroll objected to being compared to a “slave owner.”
The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” released an immigration bill on Thursday that offers a minimum 13-year path to citizenship contingent on increased border security. The bill would also allow young illegal immigrants — those who came to the United States as children — to become citizens after five years.
UPDATE: Rubio press secretary Alex Conant e-mails National Review, “I regret evoking slavery in the context of the current debate because obviously there’s no comparison between the plight of slaves and today’s illegal immigrants. The point I was trying to make (in 140 characters) is that allowing immigrants to apply for permanent residence, but not eventually be able to apply for the full benefits of citizenship, has been tried and failed, and has had disastrous social consequences in Europe today.”