In 2010, Marco Rubio had to defeat a well-funded and well-known Charlie Crist in both the GOP primary and the general election. He did it, in part, by taking an immigration position that was in contrast to Crist's pro-amnesty position, earning him some positive ratings on our candidate comparison pages. But after yesterday's press conference, we wondered what changed? Apparently, a lot!
On November 17, 2009, a year before the 2010 general election, the Palm Beach Post chronicled a six-minute "discourse" in which the now-Senator criticized Ronald Reagan's 1986 amnesty bill.
In 1986 Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million people. You know what happened, in addition to becoming 11 million a decade later? There were people trying to enter the country legally, who had done the paperwork, who were here legally, who were going through the process, who claimed, all of a sudden, ‘No, no no no , I’m illegal.’ Because it was easier to do the amnesty program than it was to do the legal process.
If you grant amnesty, the message that you’re sending is that if you come in this country and stay here long enough, we will let you stay. And no one will ever come through the legal process if you do that.
In rolling out his plan, Rubio has been adamant about ensuring that illegal aliens who would qualify for his amnesty would have to go to the back of the line. But while they're waiting, they can continue to live and work in the United States. That's a pretty good deal! Do the millions of people across the globe waiting in line to come to the United States legally get to live and work here too?
Rubio also said back in 2009…
Only after you deal with illegal immigration in a serious way — seal the border and the visa problem — can you then create a legal immigration system that works. That still leaves you with 11 million people that are here illegally.
The outline introduced yesterday by the "Gang of Eight", including Rubio, includes provisions that call for the creation of a panel of border state officials that will help determine when the border is indeed secure. It also calls for partial completion of the entry/exit system, which, by the way, has been mandated by Congress six times. (Who thinks lucky No. 7 is the charm?) Instead of requiring a fully effective exit system, though, the Gang's plan only requires exit tracking at airports and seaprots, but no land ports. Furthermore, what was proposed yesterday was exactly that - a proposal. There's no bill; there are no details; so we have no idea what the final product will look like.
Since election day, we've heard a lot of pundits say that they've "evolved" on their immigration positions. I suppose Rubio is no different. But before he attaches his name to an actual amnesty bill in the Senate, maybe he should remind himself of the final words he spoke on that November day back in 2009 regarding Reagan's amnesty bill:
I think he did it for the right reasons, but I think it ended up working the wrong way.
The Rubio proposal appears to be headed in that same, wrong, way.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Jan 29th 2013 @ 12:09pm EST