Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was the face of the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate, suggested on Tuesday that if Congress does not pass an immigration bill, President Barack Obama would temporarily grant all of the country’s illegal immigrants amnesty with an “executive order.”
Rubio misspoke, though, as Obama used an executive action for his deferred action program and not an executive order.
The House will reportedly take up a series of piecemeal immigration bills when lawmakers come back to Washington after the recess with the goal of going to conference with the Senate. With support for the Senate’s bill plummeting, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) conceded, those who support immigration reform are attempting to argue that what Obama may do if Congress does not act may be far worse than the Senate’s immigration bill that would reduce wages for working class Americans.
“I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, he will be tempted to issue an executive order like he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen,” Rubio said on Tuesday to a Florida radio station. “Now, we won’t get an E-Verify, we won’t get any border security. But he’ll legalize them.”
If Congress does not act on immigration, activists are getting ready to put pressure on Obama. But immigration reform activists have said their “plan B” was to press for an executive action and not, as Rubio suggested, an executive order.
Breitbart News reported last week that such activists are gearing up to pressure Obama “to use an executive action to give temporary amnesty to all of the country’s illegal immigrants if Congress does not pass a comprehensive immigration bill after the August recess.”
These groups want Obama–who has said he was willing to use “whatever executive authority I have” if Congress does not bend to his will–to grant “temporary amnesty leading up to the 2014 midterm elections just like they successfully persuaded Obama to enact a ‘deferred action’ program via executive directive in the lead-up to the 2012 elections.”
Rubio, whose poll numbers have plummeted among Republicans and conservatives since embracing immigration reform, had gone silent since the Senate’s immigration bill passed before speaking for about a minute on the subject in a 35-minute speech on Monday. Rubio then made more remarks on Tuesday.
“We can’t leave, in my mind, the way it is. Because I think a year from now we could find ourselves with all 11 million people here legally under an executive order from the president,” Rubio said.