By Javier Manjarres
With President Obama set to outline his immigration agenda during a speech in Las Vegas on Tuesday, new details are emerging about a bipartisan group of Senators who are reported to have been working on an immigration bill for quite some time.
It will come to no one’s surprise that Republican Senator John McCain and other like-minded Republicans are working with the Democrats on yet another “comprehensive” immigration plan that according to McCain will resemble the amnesty-laden McCain-Kennedy bill of 2007 that was summarily rejected.
Given the fact that many Republicans are attempting to pander to the Hispanic voting bloc after it went for President Obama by a large margin in 2012, many Republicans may be eager to jump on board with McCain’s new comprehensive immigration plan.
Senator Marco Rubio has taken the lead on this issue of late and disclosed many of his own ideas about what his version of immigration reform would contain. Rubio does not offer amnesty, yet skirts the amnesty line by offering a plan that offers both penalties and incentives to existing illegal immigrants who are already living in the U.S.
Rubio wants these illegals to come out of the shadows, pay a fine, pay taxes, go on a immigration probationary period before being afforded the opportunity to seek residency.
His ideas have received praise from both Republicans and conservatives alike, but there are those who still question whether Rubio’s overall proposal is just another version of “amnesty” or if it actually can finally resolve the issue in a manner that is acceptable to a broad consensus, including most conservatives. If Rubio were to successfully spearhead and resolve this issue, it could very well lead to the inside track to the Republican nomination and the White House in 2016.
Before becoming a U.S. Senator, Rubio was somewhat dismissive and reluctant to acknowledge the pressing nature of the immigration issue. Rubio was heckled at a club in Fort Lauderdale by immigration enforcement advocates who were upset with Rubio for blocking several immigration bills from coming to a vote in the Florida House. As his campaign for Senate progressed, Rubio began to take the issue more seriously, and he’s now at the forefront of the debate.
Will Rubio wind up supporting McCain’s bipartisan amnesty bill that’s likely to emerge out of the Senate, or will he continue making the case for an alternative measure that emphasizes legal immigration with, offers a “pathway” but without offering blanket amnesty? Rubio will have the opportunity to distance himself from McCain’s amnesty measure that is likely to have President Barack Obama’s support- will Rubio continue to advance a real alternative that seals the border, earns respect among conservatives, and resolves this issue in a manner that does not ultimately undermine the long term viability of the Republican Party? We are about to find out very soon.