In recent days, Republican presidential candidates have slammed donor-class favorite Marco Rubio for his support of Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty for DREAMers, or illegal aliens who came to the United States as minors.
The executive action, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), provides recipients with work permits, tax credits, and access to federal entitlement programs.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump declared, “Marco Rubio would keep Barack Obama’s executive order on amnesty intact… Cannot be President.”
Chris Christie similarly said, “I don’t know why anyone would want to have someone who is not going to enforce the law as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.”
But Rubio has been unbowed by the accusation by his White House rivals that he is perpetuating an illegal program. In fact, the Florida Senator went even further today in support of DREAMer amnesty during an event at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.
Not only did Rubio reiterate that he would not reverse Obama’s executive amnesty on day one—as candidates ranging from Christie to Ted Cruz have promised—but he said his “ideal way” of transitioning out of the Obama’s amnesty would be for it to be “replaced by a reform system that creates an alternative.”
This is Rubio’s most explicit suggestion yet, following Paul Singer’s endorsement, that enacting a legislative amnesty would be one of his first priorities in office.
This will likely raise constitutional criticisms from his competitors, as Congress has repeatedly defeated the DREAM Act. In effect, what Rubio is saying is that he would not enforce the laws Congress had already adopted but substitute President Obama’s executive amnesty in their place until Rubio, and presumably Speaker Paul Ryan, had taken another run at legislative amnesty.
It will have to end at some point. It will have to end. In fact, I’ve already said we shouldn’t be signing up new people to the program. We should stop new enrollment. This program has now been around for three years– if you haven’t signed up by now. We shouldn’t– we’re not going to extend the program. DACA is going to end and the ideal way for it to end is that it’s replaced by a reform system that creates an alternative, but if it doesn’t it will end; it cannot be the permanent policy of the United States
By saying he would “extend” the program and “stop new enrollment” Rubio is making clear that he would continue to allow the hundreds of thousands of illegals signed up by Obama to continue to collect taxpayer-funded benefits and work permits that allow them to fill jobs in place of unemployed Americans. That Rubio’s “ideal” answer is to have a legislative amnesty cover all those covered by Obama’s amnesty again strongly suggests that despite our current border crisis, moving an Eric Cantor-style DREAM Act will be one of Rubio’s highest priorities.
Indeed, several months ago, Breitbart News exclusively reported an interview with Rubio’s campaign in which they indicated that Rubio would push an amnesty-first policy in the White House for DREAMers.
Rubio’s wording is strikingly identical to the exact position articulated by President Obama—namely that he will leave the temporary executive amnesty measure for DREAMers in place until Congress submits to the order by legislatively ratifying amnesty.
Obama’s description of his amnesty, and his plan for making it temporary by replacing it with legislation, is virtually indistinguishable from Rubio’s newest soundbite. In Obama’s townhall with MSNBC’s Jose Diaz Balart, Obama made all the same points as Rubio:
In 2012, when I made my first announcement about executive actions, that applied to the DREAMers. Basically, if you were — if you had come here before 2007, you’re between the ages of 16 and 30, you could register, sign up, you now had a legal status. It was temporary because we hadn’t passed a bill yet, but it meant that you could get a work permit, you could go to school — you could do the things that American kids do as they’re entering into adulthood. That has not changed… until we pass a law through Congress, the executive actions that we’ve taken are not going to be permanent; they’re temporary… the one thing I do want to emphasize is that in order for us to get absolute certainty that it’s going to be permanent and not just temporary… is we’ve got to pass a bill– which means the pressure has to continue to stay on Congress.
As Greg Sargent at The Washington Post noted, the fact that Rubio’s position is the same as President Obama’s could spell trouble for Rubio’s campaign:
Rubio declined to say that as president he would roll back Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program… What this means is that Rubio wouldn’t scrap protections for the DREAMers — because they were brought here as children, and that wouldn’t be fair — instead hoping that they get somehow incorporated into some kind of broader legislative reform. To Donald Trump — who has called for deporting all 11 million — this position is disqualifying in a presidential candidate… as Sahil Kapur documents, many leading conservatives still continue to blast Rubio as untrustworthy on the issue… One sign of Rubio’s untrustworthiness is his refusal to say he’d roll back protections for DREAMers immediately as president…polls show that majorities of GOP voters are sympathetic with Trump’s call for mass deportations. Rubio had hoped to fudge the issue, signaling sufficient contrition to conservatives while still keeping his positions vague enough to leave a route back to supporting some form of reform that includes legalization in the general election.
Sargent notes that Rubio is intentionally giving vague responses during the primary to give himself room in the general election to move even further towards the progressive view on immigration. This would put the GOP in the unusual position of putting forward a general election candidate who would pledge to continue and expand the immigration policies of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Indeed, although it has received little attention from establishment conservative media outlets, in recent months Rubio has said he will cement and continue Obama’s signature immigration policies. Rubio has indicated support for all of the following Obama-backed measures opposed by GOP voters: green cards and thus citizenship and welfare for illegal aliens, expanded refugee resettlement, massively increasing the number of H-1B visas, increasing record immigration rates, and continuing to execute the President’s 2012 DREAMer amnesty.
As of publication, Senator Rubio’s office did not respond to a request for comment in reply to the following two questions:
1) Does Sen. Rubio think Obama’s 2012 DACA program is unconstitutional?”2) If he does think it’s unconstitutional, why won’t he commit unconditionally to do away with it on day one if elected president?