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Sen. Rubio Discusses Immigration Reform in 'An American Son

Sen. Rubio Discusses Immigration Reform in 'An American Son

Editor's note: In just a short time in Washington D.C., Florida Senator Marco Rubio has become a leading voice in the national discussion surrounding Immigration policy reform. In an exclusive excerpt to The Blaze from Sen. Rubio's new memoir "An American Son," the Senator discusses the partisan challenges to achieving sensible Immigration policy reform, and how solutions are often a lot more complicated and harder to put together than some advocates are willing to ever concede. 

The anti-illegal-immigration side often loses perspective on the issue. But the pro-immigration crowd is also guilty of a maximalist approach. They ignore how illegal immigration unfairly affects immigrants who live here legally or are trying to immigrate here legally.

Every year my Senate office is approached by hundreds of people who request our assistance in expediting changes to their immigration status. They’ve followed the rules, paid the necessary fees and patiently waited. It isn’t fair to them to permit millions of people to remain here who didn’t follow their example and apply for legal status. What message does that send to aspiring immigrants? It tells them they can immigrate to our country a lot quicker if they do so illegally.

Immigration advocates also allow themselves to be manipulated politically, which is something Cuban Americans have experienced in every election. Many candidates have campaigned in Miami’s Cuban communities promising to get tough on Castro. “Cuba Libre,” they shout, and then, after they’re elected, they ignore the issue. Today, it’s common for Democratic candidates to make all sorts of unrealistic promises about immigration reform to Latinos in the hope of mobilizing their support, and once in office they fail to keep them. President Obama was elected with substantial majority of Latino support even though John McCain was one of the most outspoken immigration reform advocates in the Republican Party. The president promised he would pass comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in office. He didn’t. He didn’t even propose a comprehensive bill despite having Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

Why? Because the solution is a lot more complicated and harder to put together than Democrats ever concede. Also, immigration is such an effective wedge issue against Republicans, some Democrats would just as soon keep it than make the necessary concessions that could lead to a bipartisan resolution of the issue.

Immigration reform advocates have allowed Democrats to define the debate by insisting on support for specific bills that are unlikely to become law in their current form. For example, the vast majority of Americans and my Republican colleagues support the idea behind the DREAM Act, of making a distinction for and helping undocumented students who are high academic achievers-kids who were brought to the United States when they were very young and have grown up here. They’re ready to contribute to the country’s future. They’re not in compliance with immigration law and, thus, not American citizens. But they are culturally as American as anyone else’s children. I’m sure we would find a way to keep them here if they could dunk a basketball. Why would we deport them if they’re valedictorian of their high school class?

But the bill is too broad as currently written. It could encourage chain migration, by authorizing the relatives of students covered by the act to come here. A narrower bill would serve the same primary purpose of the DREAM Act, permit undocumented students to remain in the country and go to school without exacerbating the illegal immigration problem. The modifications necessary to assure its passage are not difficult to conceive or write into law. Nor should they trouble people on either side of the debate. But many activists refuse to concede that and denounce any opposition to the current DREAM Act as anti-immigrant. And many Democrats happily urge them on. I don’t question that many of my Democratic colleagues are sincere in their desire to help undocumented students. So am I. But I’m not so naïve that I don’t recognize that some Democrats enjoy the advantage with Latino voters that Republican opposition to the bill gives them.


Excerpted from AN AMERICAN SON by Senator Marco Rubio by arrangement with Sentinel, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright (c) Marco Rubio, 2012.

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