The Corner

We Need Some Yes/No Answers from Rubio on Immigration

In response to Drifting Toward War With North Korea

Like Patrick, I too am encouraged by Rubio’s seeming commitment to Enforcement First. But whether it’s the real thing or just a con hinges on one question: Is he proposing to fully implement universal E-Verify and visa-tracking before asking Congress to grant amnesty to today’s illegals, or just pass legislation calling for enforcement. If it’s the first, then I’m for it — though since he’s taken pretty much every position one can take on immigration at one time or another, it’s not like I actually trust him. But if his idea of Enforcement First is simply passing a bill on it, to be followed in short order by another bill offering legal status to illegals, then it’s just the piecemeal version of the Gang of Eight trick. One of the purposes of a primary campaign is to try to pin down slippery politicians on just this kind of point.

On the plus side, he seems to have said the right thing to Byron York:

Once it’s in place, and people see that it is working and is actually being applied, then I think people would be willing to have a serious and responsible conversation about how to address the millions of people who are here illegally.

On the minus side, he refused to directly answer Bob Schieffer’s straightforward question on whether as president he’d sign the Schumer-Rubio bill which he has supposedly repudiated: “That’s a hypothetical that will never happen.” Sorry, but that’s something that can — must — be addressed with a ”yes” or “no” response, one that won’t lose anything in translation.

There’s also the second stage in Rubio’s step-by-step approach: “modernize our legal immigration system” by reducing the emphasis on family connections. Again, this is necessary, but how many immigrants is at least as or more important as how they’re selected. So another yes/no question, this one not even asked by York or Schieffer, would have been, “Do you support decreasing the current legal immigration level of about 1 million per year?” An attempt at leavening the GOP message with a dose of populism isn’t going anywhere if it rejects Senator Jeff Sessions’s core point:

What we need now is immigration moderation: slowing the pace of new arrivals so that wages can rise, welfare rolls can shrink and the forces of assimilation can knit us all more closely together.

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