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The Flaw in Marco Rubio’s Immigration Jujitsu

Here’s a potential stumbling block for Sen. Marco Rubio’s strategy [3] of whispering to the talk-radio right: If current immigration law, or what passes for it, is “de facto amnesty,” then the 11 or 12 million undocumented workers residing here illegally would have no incentive to “come out of the shadows” and take advantage of Rubio’s path to legal status.

Step back and recall the reason why many Republicans urgently want to tackle the immigration issue (other than to establish Rubio’s credentials as a reformer and policy wonk as preparation for a 2016 presidential run). Obviously, they want to improve the party’s image among Hispanics. Pace Mitt Romney, they would like to deliver a gift to a growing demographic.

To sell the plan to immigration restrictionists, however, Rubio must emphasize its punitive measures—its law-and-order litany of, as Romney-turned-Rubio booster Jennifer Rubin explains [4], monetary fines, back taxes, community service, and adverse treatment in the application for legal residence or citizenship.

At a certain level, this is how all large-scale legislative reforms work; you assemble a coalition by discretely highlighting the most appealing aspects of your proposal—access to medical care for the working poor, more customers for hospitals and insurers, lower costs (in theory!) for everyone, to use the Obamacare sales pitch as an example. If enough people think they’ll gain more than they lose, your reform stands a chance of becoming law. But Rubio appears to be playing this game to the point of internal contradiction. If he tells the likes of Mark Levin and Sean Hannity that current law is a better deal for undocumented workers, then what’s in it for undocumented workers? How would it tangibly improve their lives?

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To be clear, I hope something like the Rubio-Bush-Obama framework eventually becomes law. While far from perfect, it’s better than the easily-flouted system currently in place. Maybe this PR flaw, as I see it, won’t matter much. At this point, it appears that both sides are hungry enough for a deal to ignore the dissonance of Rubio’s case for comprehensive reform.

Follow @scottgalupo [5]

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#1 Comment By Patrick On January 25, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

“If he tells the likes of Mark Levin and Sean Hannity that current law is a better deal for undocumented workers, then what’s in it for undocumented workers?”

Yeah. Perhaps Rubio believes restrictionists want whatever-plan-sticks-it-to-the-undocumented-crowd, because he thinks they’re a bunch of racists?

#2 Comment By TomB On January 25, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

Scott Galupo wrote:

“if [Rubio] tells the likes of Mark Levin and Sean Hannity that current law is a better deal for undocumented workers, then what’s in it for undocumented workers? How would it tangibly improve their lives?

And I think here’s the flaw in your assessment Scott: Don’t you think it’s absolutely beyond merely “intangible” and instead damn near existentially huge to be relieved of the absolutely *constant*, 24/7 threat that, at any second under the fluctuating enforcement rules, you and the *entire* life you’ve planted here—and the longer it’s been the dear their roots—might be grabbed up by the ICE people and flown back to Juarez, very possibly leaving your loved ones here even and you down in that cartel garden spot?

While I respect your difference of opinion regarding the smartness of an amnesty scheme I would however at least ask you to stop referring to something like Rubios or Obamas or any of the others floating around out there by their own, self-described (and self-interested) “comprehensive” label.

Outside of those consciously lying by using that term and the vast majority of the rest who haven’t thought about it but use it only because the media has of course accepted it, it’s about as comprehensive as describing a donut as a hole.

Either that or point with specificity to those provisions that grant at least a high degree of confidence that the passage of same is going to stop another 11-15 million into the country illegally over the next 10 years or so and *then* maybe we can accept the term “comprehensive.”

*Then* most people might at least say “yeah, okay, it strives for comprehensiveness at least.”

But especially in light of all the innumerable past promises we’ve heard about stopping same, and all the equally innumerable bald face failures, lies, tricks and etc that have made *all* those promises into jokes, those provisions I think you have to point to ought to be very very convincing ones.

And even beyond this mere labeling question, Scott, can you tell us why you support anything like the Rubio scheme in the face of that question of future illegals? Do you really believe any of them will really stanch that flow? Why, specifically? And if not, answer why anyone would still vote for what would just certainly be “just another amnesty” to inevitably be followed by the *next* needed amnesty in the near future?

I think that indeed is the main obstacle in people’s minds to an amnesty. Everyone went along with that 1980’s one because of its promises. And, incredibly, so far as I have seen the present schemes being floated don’t even *bother* to make such promises.

#3 Comment By M_Young On January 25, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

“To be clear, I hope something like the Rubio-Bush-Obama framework eventually becomes law. While far from perfect, it’s better than the easily-flouted system currently in place. ”

Huh? How is this amnesty going to reduce incentives for illegal immigration? It’s not like we don’t have experience in this area — we amnestied 3.1 or so million in 1986, less than 30 years later we have almost quadrupled the number. Any ‘enforcement’ provisions will be sabotaged. Even if they aren’t, they will be counterbalanced by a simple fact, that once an illegal becomes legal, they are a semi-secure base for their relatives and friends back in Mexico (for the majority) or where-ever else.

Also, for a writer who emphasizes fiscal policy so much, it is amazing that Mr. Galupo doesn’t see the obvious — legalization will enable a good chunk of these folks to get a piece of the biggest ‘welfare’ program of all — the EITC.

I’ve got to say that it is just sad to see ‘American Conservative’ throwing in the towel on opposition to– or even actually cheering on — continued mass immigration into America.

#4 Comment By Simple Simon On January 26, 2013 @ 8:24 am

The flaw in Rubio’s “immigration jujitsu” is that he thinks jujitsu is necessary.

The situation is straightforward. Enforce the law. Deport the lawbreakers.

#5 Comment By Bill P. On January 26, 2013 @ 9:12 am

“recall the reason why many Republicans urgently want to tackle the immigration issue …”

This is not the reason. The reason is to build a latafundia economy based on cheap labor.

#6 Comment By David Giza On January 27, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

Current law isn’t a better deal for undocumented workers. They have to live in the shadows hoping they won’t be deported by the ICE. If comprehensive immigration reform passes, there is a pathway towards citizenship. Why can’t they go through the normal process of becoming legal citizens? Because the current political and social climate in the United States favors immigrants of all nationalities and races over native-born American citizens. It’s cool to be an immigrant.

U.S. companies want to hire these people because they don’t have to pay them even minimum wage. If you publicly oppose immigration, you are called a racist or indifferent to American history i.e; ”Wasn’t your father or mother or grandparent an immigrant? How can you oppose immigration?”

#7 Comment By Chad On January 28, 2013 @ 12:25 am

David Giza – If immigrants become citizens it’d be much harder for companies to try and pay them below the minimum wage to highlight just one flaw in your very flawed argument

#8 Comment By Pedro Perdomo On January 28, 2013 @ 3:13 am

The immigration issues are a generational problem; you can not create new laws to deal with the current problem, specially baased in a historical record.
So far I am satisfied with the way the Obama administration is dealing with the issue (2 million deportees in four years, which is equivalent to the jobs created). Any form of amnisty is going to sound as an invitation letter to all the unemployed people of Central America and beyond.
In another trail… why do we give new inmigrants (specialy those from regions of the world where arranged marriages are a tradition) the “right” to inport two brides once they get naturalized?.

#9 Comment By David Giza On January 30, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

Chad: What are the other flaws in my post?