After the Republican party experienced a disastrous defeat in November 2012, they attributed their loss to the changing demographics in the United States. Latino voters are the fastest growing minority, and they overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama’s re-election for President.
The brain trusts in the Republican party concluded that they had to do a better job communicating their message to Latino voters, and that Willard Mitt Romney’s rhetoric that undocumented immigrants should self deport, and not have access to healthcare or an education, was harmful to the future prospects of the party in national elections.
While it was a coalition of women, younger voters, the LGBT community, Latinos, and people of color, who joined together to support President Obama, and hand the GOP another defeat in a nationwide election, Republicans determined that Latinos were a crucial constituency that they needed to woo.
President George W. Bush received 44% of the Latino vote in 2004, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) received 31% in 2008, and Willard Mitt Romney received 27% in 2012.
In order to be more conciliatory, and improve the GOP’s image among Latinos, Republicans agreed to join Democrats in a discussion about the 12 million undocumented immigrants that are estimated to be in the United States.
Both political parties agreed that comprehensive immigration reform is a moral imperative. Republicans were motivated to address the issue because they’re afraid that if they continue to alienate Latino voters, they imperil the future of their party. Democrats have long advocated immigration reform because it’s the right thing to do.
President George W. Bush pushed Congress to address immigration reform in 2007, and his proposal was dead in the water because extreme right-wing Republicans had no interest in reforming immigration policy.
Last week President Bush said that Congress should fix immigration policy because as it stands it’s “inhumane,” and fixing it is the right thing to do. In an interview with the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward last week, President Bush commented on the current efforts to reform immigration.
"The right reason is it's important to reform a broken system. I'm not sure a right reason is that in so doing we win votes," Bush said. "I mean when you do the right thing, I think you win votes, as opposed to doing something that's the right thing to win votes. Maybe there's no difference there. It seems like there is to me, though."
"I mean we ought to be doing it. One, it's right. Two, because the system is broken," Bush said. "It's a system rife with corruption and the corruption being smugglers bringing individuals to do jobs Americans won't do. And it's, to me it's an inhumane system."
"Second it's important for our economy to have people here come on a regularized basis, not permanently necessarily," he said, referencing the guest worker component. "Of course the thorny issue is citizenship and that causes people to scream amnesty, and once the amnesty word gets into the debate, people recoil."
A “gang of eight” Senators in the US Senate drafted a bill (S. 744) that was introduced in April 2013, “to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and other purposes.” The 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats comprising the “gang of eight” in the Senate are Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was a vocal proponent of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Rubio’s political roots are with the extremist tea-party movement, and political pundits say that he wants to run for President. In order to widen his appeal, he felt that he could be a leader on immigration reform. His parents are immigrants, and because of his national ambitions, he felt that he could capitalize on the goodwill that comes with being a sponsor of this legislation, and benefit from the free publicity that this hot-button issue generates in the press.
On Tuesday May 21st, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act by a vote of 13-5. While Democrats on the committee sold out the gay community by not including binational gay married couples in the bill, immigration reform advocates were largely pleased with the legislation. The next step in the process is for the full Senate to consider the bill.
In a radio interview earlier this week, Senator Rubio made news because he said that as the bill currently stands, he won’t support his own bill.
Speaking with radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday, Rubio said the Senate should “strengthen the border security parts of this bill so that they’re stronger, so that they don’t give overwhelming discretion to the Department of Homeland Security.” He said he was working with other senators on amendments to do just that.
Then Hewitt asked: “If those amendments don’t pass, will you yourself support the bill that emerged from Judiciary, Senator Rubio?”
Rubio answered, “Well, I think if those amendments don’t pass, then I think we’ve got a bill that isn’t going to become law, and I think we’re wasting our time. So the answer is no.”
As Jonathan Chait notes at New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog, Rubio is playing both sides against each other.
Is the deal exactly what Rubio wanted? No. It wasn't exactly what anybody wanted. But, again, that's called "negotiation." That's why Democrats had to vote for utterly obnoxious provisions excluding gay couples. They didn't like the things they voted for, but were under the impression that both sides were bound by the terms of the deal. Now Rubio is saying only they're bound by it.
The question for Democrats is, at what point do they insist that a deal's a deal? The dynamic here is that Republicans have a mainly political objective, and Democrats a mainly policy objective. The Republicans do want some changes to the law that would benefit businesses, but mainly they want to take immigration off the table as an issue in order to give themselves an opening to court Latino voters. Democrats are willing to take the issue off the table in order to get a substantive policy accomplishment.
The most attractive resolution from the Republican point of view is to get Democrats to support a very weak reform. That enables them to accomplish the political goal at minimum cost of angering their own base. But at some point, the policy gain for Democrats is low enough that it isn't worth surrendering the political advantage.
Wonkblog argues that the changes to the bill Rubio is now demanding would bring its value close to zero. If that's the case, the Democrats' strategy is pretty easy. They need to hold firm to the Gang of Eight deal and dare Rubio to vote against a bill he has publicly championed.
Is Marco Rubio’s support absolutely necessary for this bill to pass in the US Senate? No it’s not. Should he fail to support his own bill, his presidential prospects will certainly be diminished.
Senator Rubio is an idiot, and he’s mocking the Senate, and the American people, and obviously has no interest at all in immigration reform. He’s like the “Emperor with No Clothes,” and from where I sit the view isn’t pretty.
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