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Conservative blogger & Marco Rubio duke it out on immigration


On Tuesday evening, Red State's Erick Erickson declared, "I don’t like Marco Rubio’s plan."

In a comprehensive blog post on Rubio's comprehensive immigration plan, Erickson argued that the Republican plan actually made the problem of immigration more difficult to solve.  "On the specific plan, for lack of legislation, it is clearly written by a group of men who seemingly love government, but do not love free markets, small businesses, or individuals. It is a plan based on faith in government, not free enterprise or the American people," he wrote.

Erickson also quoted Ben Domenech who argued that the GOP plan would increase government, not liberty; it would set up another fight over how to manage the border; and it would place significant burdens on employers.

Since we on the right prefer informed debate over blindfolded fear, Erickson's Red State invited Rubio to personally respond to the conservative criticisms.  Rubio argues that our illegal immigration problem is caused by our broken legal immigration policies.  He writes:

In his post, Erick raised several points. First, he expresses doubt that the border can ever be secured because no one will ever agree that it is secured. There are ways to measure the security at the border. There are real and identifiable standards that can be used. And there are ways to certify this, free of political interference. If the bill that is ultimately crafted achieves this, I will support it. If it does not, I won’t.

Second, he objects to the notion of “jobs that Americans won’t do”. He correctly points out that the more accurate description is “jobs that Americans won’t do at that price point”. The fact is that, as Americans, we have reached a certain standard of living that requires us to make a certain amount of money before we will do certain jobs. The problem is that, in a free market, the cost of production is always passed on to the consumer. That is one of the reasons why I object to tax increases – because the cost is always paid by workers and customers. The same is true for labor costs. There is a price point at which our farmers simply won’t do business because they will not be able to offer products at an affordable price.

Erick’s final objection is that the plan does nothing to address the real problems with immigration – in other words, the black market for low skilled labor, long delays in the system and so forth. This is not accurate. Our principles call for the creation of a guest worker program that, when effectively implemented in conjunction with a workplace verification system, would wipe out the black market for low skilled labor. And as the principles call for, any modernization effort would have to address the long delays in the system, which a modernized agricultural worker program and STEM visa reform would do.

Perhaps the most widely used criticism I have seen is that this nothing but an updated version of earlier efforts. There are significant differences. The previous efforts did not have effective border security, workplace enforcement and entry-exit enforcement triggers, whereas this plan must or I will not support it.

The previous plan created a special pathway to citizenship through a Z-Visa, whereas these principles do not. And if the bill does, I will not support it.

Finally, Erick expresses concerns that we should not pander in the name of a solution. On this point, Erick and I are in total agreement. I’m not pursuing reforms to our immigration system because of the last election or future elections. I’m doing what I can because I believe it’s important for our country, because conservative principles can make this legislation better, and immigration is one of the few issues where government has a legitimate and central role to play.

As I have clearly stated, I will not engage in a bidding war with the President to see who can come up with the fastest and cheapest path to citizenship. That is why having these principles in writing was so important. We now have a bipartisan collection of senators – including some prominent allies of the President – committed, in writing, to border security and other enforcement triggers, a functional guest worker program and the idea that those who violated our immigration laws and stay on a work permit will not be able to receive federal benefits. We even got President Obama to concede that undocumented immigrants who avail themselves of this program will not be eligible for federal benefits, including Obamacare, during their lengthy non-immigrant status. If the President decides to support a plan to the left of this, he will do so in conflict with leaders of his own party – not to mention the majority of Americans – and ultimately bear the responsibility for derailing a bi-partisan immigration plan.

I do not pretend that this is a perfect solution. I know that the idea of accommodating people who violated our immigration laws, in any way, makes many people uncomfortable. But I have concluded that it is not good for our country to continue to allow this problem to linger. We are better off solving this once and for all.

Still waiting to see if Erickson offers up a rebuttal, but in the meantime, I'm curious to hear what our readers think.  Who's in the right here and how realistic is each of their proposals?

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