In a remarkable exchange during Thursday’s Republican presidential debate, Fox Business moderator Maria Bartiromo defied establishment media norms by challenging Sen. Marco Rubio about his desire to dramatically increase the nation’s already record-high rate of green card dispensations.
The donor-class favorite seemed dumbstruck by Bartiromo’s direct question, dodging it completely. Rubio declined to explain why he worked with the Chamber of Commerce and Chuck Schumer to engineer the largest expansion of immigration in American history— an expansion which, according to Pew polling data, is opposed by a minimum of 92% of GOP voters.
While moderators in previous debates have avoided addressing the nation’s future immigration growth and Rubio’s continued support for expanding immigration beyond all historical precedent, the popular Fox Business anchor did not shy away from the topic. Bartiromo pressed Rubio specifically on why he is “so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work”.
Sen. Rubio, under current law, the U.S. is on track to issue more new permanent immigrants on green cards over the next five years than the entire population of South Carolina. The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] says your 2013 immigration bill would have increased green card holders by another 10 million over 10 years. Why are you so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work?
Under current law, the U.S. will issue around 10 million green cards over the course of ten years. The CBO projected that Rubio’s Gang of Eight bill would have added another 10 million to our immigration population growth on top of the existing 10 million green card baseline. On top of that, it also would have provided an additional 10 million green cards to illegal immigrants already in the United States—meaning that Rubio’s bill would have resulted in a total issuance of more than 30 million green cards in the span of a single decade, or about 30 times as many green cards as active South Carolina GOP voters.
However, Rubio ignored Bartiromo’s question entirely—relying on one of his common techniques of avoiding a question by beginning his response with the phrase, “first of all” and then transitioning into a prepared script rather than answering the question at hand.
In his effort to pivot away from Bartiromo’s question, Rubio suggested that immigration—despite workers in his own state being forced to train their foreign replacements—is no longer an economic issue.
Rubio said in part:
Well, first of all, this is an issue that’s been debated now for 30 years. And for 30 years, the issue of immigration has been about someone who’s in this country, maybe they’re here illegally, but they’re looking for a job. This issue is not about that anymore. First and foremost, this issue has to be now more than anything else about keeping America safe.
Rubio’s argument that the issue is now “dramatically different” seems grounded in his claim that since 2013, a new terror threat has cropped up—one which he could not have known about back when he was pushing his Obama-backed immigration bill. Rubio declared, “The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS who were burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally.”
Rubio’s claim, however, defies logic. As the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack tweeted, “Rubio’s ‘things were different 24 months ago’ maybe his worst debate answer. As if al Qaeda isn’t as interested as ISIS in attacking us?”
Indeed, Islamic terrorism was profoundly present in 2013 and has been for decades. For instance, the first World Trade Center bombing—which took place two decades before Rubio began pushing his immigration bill—was orchestrated by an immigrant who entered the country on an R-1 visa. Similarly, the nineteen 9/11 hijackers— who carried out their terror plot more than a decade before Rubio began pushing his immigration bill— all came into the country on U.S. visas.
Moreover, as the Minnesota Public Radio has reported, Minnesota, with its large immigrant community, has long operated as a “pipeline to Al-Shabab.” In 2013, the Minnesota Public radio observed, “Since 2007, at least 23 young Twin Cities men have left for the Horn of Africa, allegedly to take up arms in Somalia’s civil war. Authorities believe the men joined al-Shabab, a ruthless and radical Islamic militia group vying to topple Somalia’s weak transitional government.” Around that same time, TIME reported, “Al-Shabab has a history of recruitment from this community—the largest, most successful terrorist radicalization of American immigrants ever. Al-Shabab’s efforts in Minnesota, which is home to more than 30,000 Somalis, began in 2007 after the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.”
Yet more specifically, Rubio was in the process of pushing his immigration bill through the Senate at the very moment the Boston bombing took place—a terror plot carried out by Muslim immigrants. Rubio, Menendez, Graham, Durbin, and the other Gang of Eight members were finalizing their immigration expansion bill when the attack occurred.
In the immediate aftermath of the Boston attack, influential Iowa Congressman Steve King cautioned lawmakers to reconsider and slow down the Rubio-Schumer effort to jam a mass amnesty bill through Congress. King advised fellow lawmakers to “take a look at the big picture” and consider “How do we think we are going to background check the 11 to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?”
Yet Rubio attacked King for suggesting as much—stating: “We should really be very cautious about using language that links these two things [i.e. immigration and terrorism] in any way.
As victims of the Boston bombing lay in the hospital—gruesomely maimed and missing limbs— Rubio took to twitter to insist that the Islamic terror attack not stop Congress from enacting his amnesty and immigration expansion agenda—an agenda that was backed by many of his wealthy donors.
Rubio then went on to introduce the bill the very next day after the Boston bombing attack.
The legislation would have dramatically increased Muslim immigration through green cards, university-based admissions, fiancé visas, and refugees. Rubio worked relentlessly to pass the legislation in the months ahead.
Just as striking, what Rubio did not tell Bartiromo and the American viewers watching at home is that even after ISIS emerged as a serious terror threat and a household topic of discussion, Rubio quietly introduced new immigration legislation that would further increase visa issuances to the Muslim world. In fact, Rubio’s legislation—known as the Immigration Innovation Act (or I-Squared)— would allow for virtually unlimited Muslim migration into the United States.
Rubio introduced the bill in January of 2015— several months after then USCIS-President Ken Palinkas issued a public warning that ISIS will exploit our nation’s loose visa policies. In September of 2014, Palinkas wrote:
[It is] essential to warn the public about the threat that ISIS will exploit our loose and lax visa policies to gain entry to the United States. Indeed, as we know from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, from the Boston Bombing, from the recent plot to bomb a school and courthouse in Connecticut, and many other lesser-known terror incidents, we are letting terrorists into the United States right through our front door.”
Moreover, Palinkas explained that the provision of the 2013 Rubio-Schumer bill (S. 744) to legalize visa overstays—a position Rubio continues to support to this day—“raises the threat to America even higher”:
Making matters more dangerous, the Obama Administration’s executive amnesty, like S. 744 [i.e. the Gang of Eight bill] that he unsuccessfully lobbied for, would legalize visa overstays and cause millions additionally to overstay – raising the threat level to America even higher. There is no doubt that there are already many individuals in the United States, on visas – expired or active – who are being targeted for radicalization or who already subscribe to radicalized views.
Although Rubio claims to be concerned about the threat of ISIS, it seems as though he has remained unmoved by the Palinkas’ warnings. As recently as the last Presidential debate, Rubio declared that he is “personally open” to giving citizenship to the illegal immigrant community— 40% of whom are visa overstays, a number of them overstays from Muslim countries.
Indeed, what is perhaps most remarkable about Rubio’s response to Bartiromo’s question is the extent to which his legislative record directly contradicts his stated concerns.
For instance, Rubio told Bartiromo in part, “The entire system of legal immigration must now be reexamined for security first and foremost, with an eye on ISIS. Because they’re recruiting people to enter this country as engineers, posing as doctors, posing as refugees… And they got a killer in San Bernardino in posing as a fiance.”
Yet, throughout his short career in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Rubio has pushed to expand those avenues for entry, and has opposed multiple high-profile conservative efforts to curb Muslim migration.
For example, while Rubio expressed concern that jihadists could be “posing as refugees,” Rubio’s Gang of Eight bill made it easier to bring in refugees and asylees into the United States—compounding the terror threat to the nation while expanding the rate of Muslim migration. As the Federation for American Immigration Reform explained in its analysis at the time:
Title III Subtitle D of S.744 undermines current asylum and refugee law by eliminating preexisting requirements aliens apply for asylum within a certain time frame of entering the U.S., allowing asylum officers to bypass immigration judges before granting asylum to unlawful aliens, and giving broad authority to the Administration to create new categories of refugees and stateless persons to be admitted into the country.
Similarly, while Rubio highlighted that “they got a killer in San Bernardino in posing as a fiancé,” the Gang of Eight bill included a dramatic expansion of the controversial K-1 visa to allow even non-citizens living in the country to bring in their foreign fiancés and the children of their foreign fiancés.
Rubio expressed concern that terrorists could “enter this country as engineers, posing as doctors,” yet the I-Squared bill lifted caps entirely on green cards for advanced Science, Technology, Engineering and Math graduates (i.e. engineers and doctors) and placed universities in the position of being gatekeepers for American citizenship.
The disjointed answer put forward by Rubio could perhaps be explained by, what some have speculated is, his penchant for memorizing and rehearsing mini-speeches to deliver during the debate. During the debate, conservative columnist and best-selling author Ann Coulter tweeted: “Rubio the wind-up doll has done a good job memorizing his lines. He’ll get a gold star from his corporate groomers!” After Rubio’s performance in a previous debate, MSNBC’s Steve Benen observed that, “Rubio looked as if he’d practiced that soliloquy in front of a mirror for hours, and then delivered his scripted lines nicely.”
After the first Fox Business debate, Coulter observed further:
Rubio gave a series of canned speeches in response to every question, including everyone’s favorite about ‘the future’:
[Coulter quoting Rubio:] ‘This election is about the future, about what kind of country this nation is gonna be in the 21st century. This next election is actually a generational choice. A choice about what kind of nation we will be in the 21st century…’
(Rubio proposes to be the candidate of the future with this brand-new idea: mass immigration!) Someone needs to tell Marco that every election is about the future, not just this one. It was also the slogan for every high school graduation and prom — circa 1999.
Despite Rubio’s various declarations made in his effort to respond to Bartiromo’s straightforward question, the reality is that Rubio has been deeply critical of efforts to curb Muslim immigration in the days leading up to the debate.
When Rand Paul offered an amendment only a few weeks ago to pause migration from Muslim nations with jihadist movements, Rubio opposed the measure.
Rubio told Sean Hannity that he’d “hate to use” the omnibus spending bill to block Obama’s refugee resettlement. Rubio subsequently failed to show up for the vote on the Paul Ryan’s omnibus spending bill, which would have expanded Muslim migration. Rubio similarly denounced Trump’s plan to temporarily pause Muslim migration. Rubio said, “To have a religious test would violate the Constitution”— thereby, suggesting that Muslim foreign nationals have a constitutional right to immigrate into the United States.
The Senate’s Immigration Subcommittee subsequently released a list of just some of the Muslim immigrants implicated in terrorism since 2014, which included more than 40 examples, each of the case exhausting enormous law enforcement and judicial resources that could otherwise be applied to lowering crime rates and improving community quality of life.
But impacts of Muslim migration being pushed by Senator Rubio are not limited to terrorism.
For instance, according to Equality Now, as a result of large-scale visa issuances to the Muslim world, there are currently half a million U.S. girls at-risk of suffering the non-Western practice of Female Genital Mutilation. Similarly, a 2011 study found that there are now “as many as 3,000 known or suspected cases” of forced marriages in immigrant communities within the United States. There has also been an emergence of honor violence within the United States. Aayan Hirsi Ali has explained that the amount of honor violence seems “very likely to rise in years to come… Immigration trends over the last ten years, show a significant increase in the number of people moving to the United States from countries with high-honor violence rates—notably Somalia… as well as Iraq.”
As Ross Douthat recently wrote in the New York Times:
Accepting immigrants from a particular country or culture or region involves accepting that your own nation, or part of your own nation, will become at least a little more like their country of origin. With small or slow migrations this may only happen at the margins and it may be swamped by other effects; with large or swift migrations it may happen in more significant ways. But whether the immigrants are coming from Asia or Latin America or the Middle East or North Africa, you will be able to see in those regions at least some foretaste of their impact on your own society.
Last month, Breitbart News reached out to Rubio’s campaign twice to ask him how “large-scale Muslim immigration will benefit the U.S.”
Rubio’s office did not respond for comment.