Immigration push prompts political posturing, say partisan rivals

The leaked release of the White House’s purported draft immigration rewrite has caused a ritualistic frenzy of blaming and denials — and also has reinforced bipartisan agreement among debate watchers that many politicians are posturing to hide their real views from the public.

“That’s what everybody on all sides is doing,” said Roy Beck, the founder of NumbersUSA, a reform group that is pushing to reduce current immigration levels.

In the 2007 and 2007 immigration debates, “that happened a lot,” said Mario Lopez, president of the GOP-aligned, immigration-boosting Hispanic Leadership Fund. Prominent supporters of the draft bills “bailed out at the last minute,” said Lopez.

On Sunday, the White House’s leaked draft prompted Republican Sen. Mario Rubio to immediately announce it would be “dead on arrival” if President Barack Obama submitted it to Congress.

However, the president’s draft plan shares many features with the plan endorsed by Rubio and seven other senators. Both plans would allow at least 11 million illegal immigrants to immediately get permission to live and work in the United States, while also delaying their formal receipt of green cards and citizenships.

“The weekend’s blowup is pretty much what one would expect from Rubio in the best of worlds for immigration reform, [because] Rubio’s strategy from the start has been to play up his differences with the White House as much as possible,” said a Monday article at TalkingPointsMemo.com, a progressive news site.

That view was touted by Ben Winograd, an attorney at the American Immigration Council. That organization is an offshoot of a trade group, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, that would profit if the government increases the supply of work permits and green cards.

On Feb. 18, Winograd tweeted out a section of the TPM article: “Rubio’s strategy from the start has been to play up his differences with the White House as much as possible.”

The TPM article was also touted and quoted by Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who wants to halve annual immigration to roughly 500,000 people.

“Why Rubio-Obama amnesty spat? [To] Dupe GOPs to ‘think they’re somehow thumbing their nose at Obama” by backing Rubio bill,’” he tweeted on Monday. ”Obama’s amnesty bill = Rubio’s amnesty bill.”

Any bill that provides even a conditional amnesty to at least 11 million illegals or an increased inflow of workers offers risks and reward to politicians.

For Rubio, it has already earned him much favorable coverage in the establishment press, and boosted his visibility among the corporate side of the GOP.