I admit, I never solved a Rubik’s Cube, but I think I’d have a better chance at doing that than unscrambling Marco Rubio’s twisted logic on immigration compromise.
In a recent morning radio show interview, Rubio explained one of the great problems of political compromises. That is, if you want to get something done in Washington, often times you have to sit down and compromise with people with whom you disagree. This means sometimes agreeing to some things you don’t want in order to get some things you do want. But, Rubio says, there are lines you have to draw:
When you find flexibility, it’s sometimes people are willing to go a little bit further to get something done. And I think getting things done is important—I’m not a fan of gridlock. But by the same token, I think that at some point, getting something done isn’t worth doing if what you’re doing is going to do more harm, or if it’s going to create a new set of problems in an effort to solve an existing set of problems.
I think that makes sense. One must not give too much, too dearly, or too naively in negotiation. Rubio knows this and believes it.
And that’s why what he says next makes is so baffling. He goes on to argue that conservatives must compromise and give amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants, because if they don’t, Obama will “be tempted to” give amnesty through executive order. Huh?
Here are his words from the same interview: “I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress . . . to issue an executive order, like he did for the Dream Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen.”
In other words, Rubio is arguing that since Obama may give amnesty through a legally dubious, unstable, and temporary means, therefore Republicans should preempt this by codifying amnesty into a legally unquestionable, rock-solid, and permanent means.
This doesn’t sound like the same guy who just said “getting something done isn’t worth doing if what you’re doing is going to do more harm, or if it’s going to create a new set of problems in an effort to solve an existing set of problems” just three seconds earlier.
Rubio’s proposed solution would indeed create a new set of problems—and permanent ones at that. Not only would it codify leftist immigration dreams into much firmer and more permanent law than Obama himself could ever achieve through executive order, it would also give the Executive vast new powers than it had before—indeed, the proposal would create vast new federal government powers in general. The Washington Examiner explains,
Rubio’s immigration bill is chock full of brand new grants of power to the executive branch. For starters, it creates a brand new government bureaucracy charged with setting wages for the entire agricultural sector of the United States economy. It also contains hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars earmarked for amnesty advocacy groups like like La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund. Obama would have total discretion over which liberal and progressive groups to give this money to.
Rubio’s justification for this is that “if Republicans don’t give Obama a legally enacted amnesty now, they won’t get things they want on immigration, like new border security spending and E-verify.” But again, this doesn’t sound like the guy who just explained to us the futility of compromising one’s ideological principles for small gains.
Worse, it sounds extremely naïve. Again, the Examiner notes that “those security measures will never happen under Obama, law or no law. . . . [D]oes anyone on the planet really think that the same administration that will not enforce the employer mandate in its own signature health care law would ever enforce the E-Verify employer mandate it never wanted in the first place?”
Indeed, if the administration won’t enforce the immigration laws already on the books, how deluded is it to think that the same administration will suddenly fall in line when we add more [drumroll] immigration laws to the books?
Someone once said something about the definition of insanity.
And that’s what puzzles me so much about Rubio’s political calculation, especially since he acknowledges in this interview that taking this stance has not gained him anything on either side of the political aisle. There is nothing to be gained politically, legally, locally, or nationally for him or his party by advancing this fatally compromised and naïve position—yet he calls it “the right thing to do.”
There is a right thing to do regarding immigration, but giving the executive branch vast new powers is neither right nor rational.
I think Rubio at one time saw this as good for the party. He quickly learned he was wrong. But it is political suicide for politicians publicly to say “Oops.” So Rubio is now wed to an idea that he must find a way to salvage as a Republican “must.” He has trapped himself in the type of unprincipled and irrational compromise that he himself doesn’t even believe is “worth doing.”
Rubio is presenting us with a confused puzzle that can’t be solved. At least the Rubik’s Cube, difficult as it may be, has a rational solution.