Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said he believes that President Barack Obama’s first executive amnesty for so-called DREAMers—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—is “important” and he won’t reverse it himself if elected president. He delivered these remarks in a Spanish-language interview he gave to Univision’s Jorge Ramos.
“I believe DACA is important. It can’t be terminated from one moment to the next, because there are already people benefiting from it,” Rubio said in Spanish on Ramos’s television program, according to an English translation provided by the media service Grabien. “But yes, it is going to have to end. It can’t be the permanent policy of the United States, and I don’t think that’s what they’re asking either. I think everyone prefers immigration reform.”
Ramos followed up, according to the translation, by asking: “But then, to clarify, you would put an end to DACA once immigration reform is approved, but what would happen, Senator, if there is no immigration reform; would you cancel DACA anyway?”
Rubio answered that DACA will end only when a legislative substitute with the exact same or similar policy prescriptions—a legislative amnesty for illegal alien minors—is implemented. He also said in Spanish that, if elected president, he believes that America cannot deport illegal aliens here in the country right now, and he expects a legislative solution will be implemented that essentially has all the parts of the massively controversial “Gang of Eight” bill that he would pass piece-by-piece.
“Well, at some point it is going to have to end, that is to say, it can’t continue being the permanent policy of the United States,” Rubio said. “I believe, if I become President, it is going to be possible to achieve immigration reform. It is not going to be comprehensive, that is to say, it is not going to all be in one massive bill. We already tried that a few years ago. We’ve seen there isn’t political support for it and I think we’ve wasted a lot of time in this process, when we could have made progress through the steps I’ve advocated.
“Unfortunately, a lot has been spent with that, it’s become an even more controversial subject, more difficult to make progress on, but I’m still saying it’s important to modernize our system and that means improving the way we enforce in the future, modernizing the immigration system so that it isn’t as costly and bureaucratic, and we have to deal with the 12 million human beings who are here and no one, no one is advocating a plan to deport 12 million people, so that topic has to be dealt with as well.”
Rubio’s comment, targeted toward Spanish speakers, that he would keep Obama’s first executive amnesty—enacted outside the purview of Congress—in effect, until passing a legislative substitute with nearly identical policies, puts him at odds with virtually the rest of the Republican field except for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have each said that on day one as president, they would immediately undo Obama’s unconstitutional and illegal executive overreaches—including DACA, as it was started without congressional approval—rather than trying to wait for a legislative solution.
Further, Rubio is calling DACA “important,” though it’s widely understood in the political world that this program caused the border crisis last summer and will likely lead to a future border crisis. Rubio’s comments endorse a policy that, in effect, brought tens of thousands of migrant children streaming across the border illegally and risking their lives to get into America with hopes of getting an unlawful amnesty.
The last time Rubio tried to push immigration rhetoric like this—the Gang of Eight bill back in 2013—he saw a significant drop in the polls. As he continues exposing his true beliefs when it comes to immigration matters, his emotional rhetoric as a presidential candidate will be undercut by his support of policies the Republican electorate is vehemently opposed to like Obama’s executive amnesty.
Ann Coulter, the massively influential conservative columnist, has said that Rubio “can’t be serious” in running for president after exposing his wildly unpopular immigration views, and he seems to be angling for a vice presidential slot.
“I think he’s running for a vice presidential slot,” Coulter said of Rubio on Fox News. “This can’t be serious.”
It’s also worth noting that pandering on immigration to the Hispanic community as much as Bush or Rubio have does not mean Republicans have any better chance at gaining support in such communities.
Bush, who along with Rubio is the most liberal on immigration in the 2016 field and thinks of himself as an “honorary Hispanic” and even checked the race as his own on a voter registration card—something he and his campaign have tried to laugh off since the story broke—is polling worse among Hispanics than even Mitt Romney got in 2012.
Romney, who was berated for his “self-deport” line, got by most estimations about 29 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 election against President Barack Obama. Yet Bush, according to two recent ABC News and Washington Post polls, trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among Hispanic voters by an even worse margin than by which Romney lost—71 percent for Clinton to 26 percent for Bush.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that Rubio’s comments to Ramos in Spanish show that he’s significantly further left than the majority of Republicans in Congress on this issue. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment–and then passed legislation containing it–from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that would have withheld taxpayer funding for Obama’s DACA executive amnesty.
While 26 of the most liberal Republicans in the House voted against that amendment, it passed onto the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill, then passed the House. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), who is going to face conservative Frank Roche in a rematch in her primary next year, led the charge among those liberal Republicans to try to derail Blackburn’s amendment. Ellmers failed in the end.
When Rubio announced he was running for president, too, he actually argued he’s done more for illegal aliens than Hillary Clinton has.
“Well, I don’t know about others, but I’ve done more immigration than Hillary Clinton ever did,” Rubio said in an interview with National Public Radio. “I mean, I helped pass an immigration bill in a Senate dominated by Democrats. And that’s more than she’s ever done. She’s given speeches on it, but she’s never done anything on it.”