The Corner

Rubio’s Amnesty Pitch: From the Predictable to the Ridiculous

This past Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union program, Senator Rubio complained to Candy Crowley that “everyone’s focused on passing these laws that have proven ineffective and will prove ineffective in the future.”

He wasn’t talking about immigration then, but about guns. On immigration, he was the one making the argument for “passing these laws that have proven ineffective and will prove ineffective in the future.”

Rubio on Sunday managed a “Full Ginsburg” — appearing on all five Sunday talk shows on the same day. In fact, he established a new benchmark, perhaps from now on to be called the “Full Rubio,” because he also appeared on the Sunday news/interview programs of the Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo.

There wasn’t any ambivalence in his performance; it seems certain he’s going to stick with the amnesty bill expected out this week under almost any circumstances. He was not only aggressively making his case but, in addition to familiar talking points, he made a couple of new ones that were so obviously ridiculous that I can’t see how he could possibly believe them. Unless he’s an idiot, which I do not think to be the case, he’s trying to fool voters, not persuade them.

First, a familiar talking point: the bill doesn’t provide amnesty. For crisssake, of course it’s amnesty! Stop lying!


Anyway, Chris Wallace asked the amnesty question, and Rubio said his bill didn’t have amnesty because “They don’t get anything. What they get is the opportunity to apply for it. They still have to qualify for it. . . . We do not award anything to anyone.” Like if you win the lottery, you get the “opportunity” to show up and collect your winnings. He also made the familiar point to Jonathan Karl of ABC that the current situation is “de facto amnesty” — but doesn’t it necessarily follow that his proposal is de jure amnesty?

Rubio also stressed the “temporary” nature of the probationary amnesty that illegals would get once DHS pastes together yet another plan to control the border with Mexico: “This is not forever. This is a renewable thing.” Wallace followed up with the fact that “critics are saying” once the illegals have this temporary status, it’s not going to be revoked — but then, unfortunately, he moved on to something else. This is an area where Rubio needs to be pressed: If after 10 years or 13 years or whatever, the immigration security benchmarks are not met that would green-light the green card process for the amnesty recipients, will their “probationary” status be allowed to expire, or will it be renewed indefinitely as long as they live?

Rubio also offered a parody of the argument for “dynamic scoring,” saying that conservatives “don’t think tax cuts cost the government money. We think tax cuts help the government generate more revenue because it creates economic growth.” Well, sometimes it works out that way, sometimes it doesn’t, depending on where a particular tax rate is on the Laffer Curve. He pointed to this third-grade version of dynamic scoring as an argument for why amnesty and huge increases in the importation of low-skilled workers will actually make money for the government. Uh-huh. And gorging on candy bars will help you lose weight.

The most implausible — risible, really — of the new points Rubio made was that many illegals will choose to go home because it would be quicker and cheaper to get a green card that way than to go through the onerous probationary status his bill provides for. No, really, here’s what he told Bob Scheiffer on Face the Nation: “So I would argue that the existing law is actually more lenient, that going back and waiting 10 years is going to be cheaper and faster than going through this process that we are outlining.”

#more#What he’s talking about is the ten-year bar to re-entry for people who’ve lived here illegally for more than one year, passed by Congress in 1996 as a way of creating some kind of punishment for illegal residence. There are two reasons this is absurd. First, if illegal aliens aren’t going to leave because of attrition-oriented law enforcement, as Rubio repeatedly claimed, why would they give up a legal work card, Social Security account, driver’s license, travel documents, etc., just because they might be able to acquire a particular type of legal status a few years sooner by going back home? Second, the ten-year bar means little anyway, because almost everyone with a relative here gets a waiver. In fact, it used to be that you at least had to go back home to apply for that waiver and risk not getting it; under Obama, illegal aliens are able to get the waivers without leaving the country.

Almost as ridiculous was this comment to Crowley:

If the Department of Homeland Security does not secure the border, does not meet that metrics of 100 percent awareness and 90 percent apprehension within in the first five years, then they lose control of the issue, then it goes to a border commission made up of people that live and have to deal with the border and they will take care of that problem. And it’ll be funded to ensure that that happens.

What does this even mean? Does he really expect us to believe that the Department of Homeland Security will no longer patrol the border or run inspections at the ports of entry if the border’s not secured in five years? Who’s going to do it, then, state troopers? Local sheriffs? More likely, Congress will just take a page from the “doc fix” and give DHS another couple of years, and then a couple more, because, you know, securing the border is hard.

Last among the ridiculous claims Rubio delivered with a straight face was his claim to Crowley that his bill wasn’t really a “comprehensive” bill at all, because it was made up of separate parts:

First of all, that’s my preference too is to have done that in individual bills. I’ve argued that in the past. That’s not the direction the Senate was headed. So I made a decision to try to influence the direction we were headed. But here’s what I’m pleased about. Even though it’s one bill, it is divided up into segments just like Senator Lee has advocated for and so have I. And the fact of the matter is that through our negotiations we’ve been able to keep these segments separate from each other.

Uh, all bills are made of segments, especially 1,000-page monstrosities like this Rubio-care immigration proposal. The claim that dividing the bill into sections — titles, as they’re usually known — means separate bills will be presented that address, say, enforcement and guestworkers and amnesty, has a Baghdad Bob feel to it.

Some questions Rubio wasn’t asked:

He told Karl, “some people won’t qualify [for the amnesty]. They haven’t been here long enough; they’ve committed very serious crimes. They won’t be able to stay.” Okay, so will they, at least, be deported?

Also, Rubio again stressed the need for an entry-exit program — a pressing matter indeed. But can it really be that no reporter is aware that Congress has already mandated this six times over the past 17 years, and might not one of them ask why Rubio thinks a seventh mandate offering a ten-year deadline will make any difference?

Finally, Rubio told David Gregory on Meet the Press that “even if we didn’t have a single person in this country in violation of immigration laws, we’d still have to do immigration reform, because our legal immigration system is broken” (meaning we don’t let enough people in). Gregory didn’t think to ask why the 1 million-plus green cards (and hundreds of thousands of “temporary” worker visas) that we award each year aren’t enough. The L.A. Times estimates that under the proposed Schumer/Rubio bill legal immigration would jump by more than 50 percent, making those less-discussed parts of the measure probably the most consequential over the long term. That’s where some informed probing by the news media might shed some light, but the only person trying was Senator Jeff Sessions, while a guest on ABC’s This Week.

Maybe the next time Rubio does a Full Ginsburg someone will think to ask him.


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