The Corner

Rubio’s Immigration Problem

In response to Re: Martha

Ramesh and Mark discussed Rubio and immigration yesterday. I wrote my column at Politico about it today, taking up the question of how conservatives can trust him on the issue after he was the prime mover behind the Gang of 8 bill:
It’s a hell of a mulligan, and there is, understandably, lingering distrust. House Speaker Paul Ryan is a Kempian true believer in a latitudinarian immigration policy. If you couple him with a President Rubio, the erstwhile champion of a sweeping amnesty and large-scale increase in immigration, they could be the Dynamic Duo of everything grass-roots conservatives oppose on immigration.

The reassurances from the two aren’t always very reassuring. Sometimes, Ryan, who has pledged not to move a comprehensive bill during the Obama administration, sounds as if he is implicitly saying, It’s a real shame that Barack Obama is president since we can’t pass a sprawling, deceptive, impossible-to-administer 1,000-page immigration bill. But don’t worry. Once there’s a Republican president, we’ll really get after it!

Rubio often sounds more categorical when explaining that immigration reform has to be incremental, not comprehensive. But conservatives, as Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies argues, need to push to nail him down with specific promises that would exact a real political price if he ever backtracked on them.

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