Only days after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) bragged that he personally, “recruited Marco Rubio to be part of our group of eight” to sell his immigration vision, Rubio appeared in a New Hampshire Republican presidential candidate forum using nearly identical talking points to those he employed to push the Obama-backed Gang of Eight bill through the Senate.
The Schumer-Rubio immigration bill would have granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, it would have doubled the annual admission of temporary foreign workers, and it would have dispensed 30 million green cards to foreign nationals in the span of just one decade, despite current record immigration levels.
When asked by moderator and New Hampshire WGIR-AM radio host Jack Heath to describe his immigration plan, Rubio repeated almost word for word many of the same phrases he used to push his immigration bill through the Senate. Each of these talking points has been debunked as false.
For instance, Rubio declared that he wanted to, “modernize our immigration system.” This is one of Rubio’s favorite euphemisms for increasing immigration. In a 2013 op-ed, Rubio wrote, “I am advocating for… modernizing our legal immigration system.” Rubio used the phrase constantly. In fact, in one 2013 press release, Rubio used the phrase more than three times–declaring that we need to, “moderniz[e] our legal immigration system… modernizing our System will grow our economy… The modernization of our legal immigration system will be a net benefit for America.” At last night’s presidential forum, however, Rubio never explained that what he really means by “modernize our immigration” system is substantially increase the admission of low-wage foreign workers for large corporations.
Because large expansions to immigration are extremely unpopular amongst voters–a Fox News poll, for instance, shows that voters support immigration cuts by a two-to-one ratio–immigration boosters often rely on coded language to suggest they want to increase immigration without actually saying so. For example, the so-called “modernization” proposal that Rubio introduced only months ago–known as the I-Squared bill–would triple wage-depressing H-1B visas and remove university green card caps. The I-Squared bill also provides an interesting contrast between Marco Rubio’s position on immigration and that of his fellow GOP presidential candidate Governor Bobby Jindal. While Jindal has expressed a desire for the U.S. to restrict Muslim immigration made possible by our visa policies, Rubio’s bill would substantially increase immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.
Marco Rubio also recycled his Gang of Eight talking point about the need to change our immigration system from “family-based” to “merit-based” declaring, “In the 21st century, legal immigration must be based on merit.”
This was a claim Rubio made repeatedly in the process of pitching the Senate Gang of Eight bill. In a 2013 press release, Rubio praised the bill’s “historic reforms towards a more merit-based immigration system” and detailed how the bill would “accomplish the move to a more merit-based immigration system.”
Far from creating a merit-based system, however, the Schumer-Rubio bill would have released a tidal wave of family-based chain migration–allowing for the admission of an unlimited number of visas for children and spouses of green card holders. As the Migration Policy Institute explained: “The Senate bill would lift numerical limits and increase the number of permanent visas issued on the basis of nuclear family ties… [and] would dramatically expand options for low- and middle-skilled foreign workers to fill year-round, longer-term jobs and ultimately qualify for permanent residence.” According to analysis from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), less than 10% of the 30 million green cards admitted would be based on Rubio’s alleged merit-system, and of that 10% many would be awarded points based on criteria that has nothing to do with merit–such as family relations.
Rubio also repeated a series of claims, which perhaps he became most infamously associated with during his Gang of Eight pitch. Rubio told New Hampshire voters: “I believe there is a reasonable way to address the fact that you have 12 million people living in this country or more, who are illegally here but have been here for a long time. They will have to pass a background check, they will have to pay a fine, they will have to start to pay taxes. They will have to learn English. And in exchange for that what they will get is a work permit that allows them to legally work in the United States and travel…Then at some point in the future we could have a further conversation about whether they’re allowed to apply for a green card.”
During his Gang of Eight push with Sen. Schumer, Rubio constantly pledged that these requirements would be put in place for illegals before they gained legalized status. As Rubio wrote in 2013, “They will have to submit biometric data in order to pass multiple national security and criminal background checks, pay $2,000 in fines, pay taxes, and learn English and American civics. They won’t be able to get any federal benefits like welfare or ObamaCare.”
These claims have been widely discredited. With respect to background checks, Rubio’s bill would legalize people with extensive criminal records. As the president of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement union Chris Crane wrote at the time: “Senator Rubio left unchanged legislation that he himself admitted to us in private was detrimentally flawed and must be changed… As a result, the 1,200 page substitute bill before the Senate will provide instant legalization and a path to citizenship to gang members and other dangerous criminal aliens.”
Moreover, while Rubio claims that illegals will “pay taxes,” it has been shown that, to the contrary, giving illegals Social Security Numbers actually makes them eligible to receive tax credits from the federal government. Because illegal immigrants are largely low income and have no net tax liability, once legalized they could become eligible for tens of thousands of free tax credits paid for by the American taxpayer. The fact that legalizing illegals makes them eligible for large tax credits was discovered in a rather dramatic fashion after President Obama began issuing Social Security Numbers to beneficiaries of his executive amnesty. As Breitbart News reported:
Once illegal immigrants are granted Social Security Numbers… they will be able to file back tax returns and obtain up to four years of tax benefits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC)… CRS calculated the maximum level of tax credits available to hypothetical families with three and four children. It found that for a family with three children in the four years from 2011-2014 ‘phase-out threshold amount’ would be able to obtain $35,521 in the EITC and CTC.
As to Rubio’s claim that illegals will not “get any federal benefits like welfare or ObamaCare,” the opposite is, in fact, true. Once illegal aliens are given green cards and are enabled to become U.S. citizens, they become legally eligible and entitled to every single federal benefit.
With respect to Rubio’s recycled claim regarding the sequencing of legalization, in 2013 Rubio himself said in a Spanish interview with Univision that amnesty would precede enforcement: “Let’s be clear… The legalization is going to happen… First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border.”
In contrast to Rubio’s remarks at the presidential forum, Rick Santorum reiterated his commitment to reducing the number of immigrants imported into the country on green cards who would compete for American jobs. Although much of the immigration discussion focuses on illegal immigration, it is primarily immigration via visas (i.e. what in America is called “legal immigration”) that results in the greatest fiscal costs and jobs competition faced by Americans. The Census Bureau projects that it is green cards–not illegal immigration–that will push the U.S. past all documented immigration records. Indeed, as Breitbart News exclusively reported, 10 million new permanent immigrants will be added to the U.S., exclusively as a result of our green card policy over the next decade. This mass influx of foreign workers on visas can be paused at any time by passing a new federal law that stops the green card gusher. Thus far, the only top-polling Republican candidate who has articulated an openness to slowing down the green card express is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
It will be interesting to see if any of the candidates who have made immigration an issue–such as Donald Trump or Scott Walker–are prepared for Rubio’s slight of hand rhetoric. It will also be interesting to see how debate moderators address Rubio’s penchant for answering questions with euphemisms.
It is perhaps not surprising that Marco Rubio has continued to rely on his Gang of Eight talking points considering the fact that, to this day, Rubio continues to rely on the same advisors who him helped craft the Gang of Eight bill, which won the accolades of La Raza and the SEIU.
As the Washington Post reports, Rubio’s “inner circle” in his bid for the presidency consists of Enrique Gonzalez, the “Miami immigration attorney who joined Rubio’s Senate staff in 2013 to help craft [the bill]”; Cesar Conda, his former-Senate Chief of Staff-turned-advisor who helped him orchestrate the bill’s passage; and GOP consultant Whit Ayres who has made a living, in part, by demanding that the Republican Party pass large-scale immigration expansion bills favored by Republican donors such as the Gang of Eight bill– or, as The Washington Post writes, Ayres has “urg[ed] the GOP to adapt to the country’s rapidly changing demographics or risk irrelevancy within a few political cycles.”
Ironically, the “rapidly changing demographics” Ayres highlights has been brought about largely by Ted Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law, which ushered in four decades of mass immigration. Reports suggest that if Whit Ayres and Marco Rubio’s immigration plan were to go into effect– resulting in the issuance 30 million green cards to foreign nationals who favor big-government policies by a margin of two-to-one– it’s unlikely that the Republican Party could continue on as a party of limited government; or as conservative icon Phyllis Schlalfy has noted, “Limit immigration or watch conservative efforts become irrelevant.”