By Javier Manjarres
As last year’s presidential campaign began to come into focus, Senator Marco Rubio was busy immersing himself in the controversial debate over illegal immigration by laying out some specific ideas that compromised his own “Dream Act”- a move that was partly intentioned to give the Republican party an immigration plan to talk about during the campaign season.
During the sit down talk that Rubio had with the Shark Tank last May 5th, Rubio outlined some of the same details of his immigration proposal that he just disclosed to the Wall Street Journal last week. During that same interview, Rubio also disclosed some additional details that he requested remain off the record until he was more fully prepared to make these public. Rubio however did offer us a sneak peek as to what his specific policy proposal would consist of- listen to Rubio’s abbreviated interview with the Shark Tank here.
“The goal is to give American agriculture a reliable work force and to give undocumented they’re vulnerable to being exploited.”
Initially, the illegal protection to these workers as well,” Mr. Rubio says. “When someone is [migrants now in the U.S. would mostly “avail themselves” of the guest-worker system, says Mr. Rubio. “Just the process to come here to legally work in agriculture is very difficult and very expensive. It doesn’t work well. So that alone encourages illegal immigration.”- Wall Street Journal
Since then, Rubio has spent considerable time calling attention to the human trafficking epidemic and is directly related to sex trafficking that affects untold numbers of illegal immigrants who are brought to this country to find work and are subsequently forced into human slavery and prostitution. Rubio even called out a media outlet for openly promoting and profiting of the sexual exploitation of women. (Source- Human Trafficking)
Actively, you can go on there and buy a human being for two hours, and you can do that on advertising going on in newspapers being printed in this very town by Village Voice Media. It is an outrage. – Senator Marco Rubio
But now Rubio‘s message on immigration has softened somewhat from the once hard-line position he took during his 2010 Senatorial campaign, having previously discounted the immigration issue until he more realized that it was the new “third rail” of American politics. Rubio’s more ‘moderated’ ideas on immigration reform will likely result in substantial backlash from those pro-legal immigration supporters that once backed his tougher position. Rubio is attempting to bring a workable solution to the fore about the issue of illegal immigration, hoping to finally resolve the issue not only Republicans but for the country with specifics that will earn credibility with immigration hawks and forge common ground with Democrats.
While the some of the language that Rubio uses is likely to be perceived as advocating amnesty, the fact is that any idea that is anything proposal short of “deport them all” will likely be considered amnesty.
Here’s what Rubio to the WSJ-
“Here’s how I envision it,” he says. “They would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check.” Anyone who committed a serious crime would be deported. “They would be fingerprinted,” he continues. “They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they’ve been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country.”
These are very practical points that many pro-legal immigration proponents will probably be able to stomach, as in this statement he is not advocating granting citizenship, only giving them legal status to be able to work and pay taxes.
Given Democrats’ success with Hispanics in the 2012 general election, some Republicans decided to immediately pander to Hispanics on the immigration issue by supporting blanket amnesty. Rubio’s competing ideas may resonate well with Hispanics- his own conservative alternative “Dream Act” proposal that President Obama subsequently co-opted was beginning to attract favorable attention last year.
However, Rubio’s own ‘Dream Act’ did not fully consider the pandora’s box of possible legal implications that the military component that he was considering, as he and his adviser did not think through its potential shortcomings. Back in February 2012, we outlined some basic questions regarding the “honorable discharge=citizenship” provision that Rubio and others were in favor of-
Another question to consider is the following- how long does an illegal immigrant have to serve before he or she is ‘Honorably Discharged’ and receives their citizenship- is it 2 years, 4 years, 6 years, or more? And what if the soldier decides to make the military a career, what then? Do ‘what if’?’ provisions need to be added to the agreement regarding extended military service?
Another question- once these illegal immigrants become citizens by virtue of their military service, will they be allowed to immediately request the rest of their families? -(Source-Rubio Walking Amnesty Tightrope)
Moving ahead to May of last year, after being informed about a few of these implications, Rubio came to the realization that he needed to further think through the military option, and asked to be put in touch with then retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Congressman Allen West for guidance on the issue.
According to sources in both offices, Rubio never reached out to West, probably because the point was moot after Obama took all of the immigration glory away from Rubio.
Rubio is on the right track as he outlines practical ideas and principles that will modernize our immigration system. With President Obama stating that he is putting immigration reform at the top of his wish-list, we can probably expect to see Rubio roll out a few immigration proposal that will tackle some of these thornier issues head on.
It will be interesting to see if Rubio can win broad support from Hispanics who may be adverse to accepting the ideas and solutions that come from an “American-Cuban.” While it’s not widely reported, the truth is that most Hispanic immigrants believe that Cuban-Americans have had a ‘free pass’ to come to this country and are somewhat out of touch with the plight of the majority of other Hispanics who have come here from other countries.
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