Sen. Marco Rubio blocked numerous immigration-enforcement bills when he served as speaker in the Florida House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009.
“Rubio blocked any efforts to deal with the problems of illegal immigration on the local or state level,” one former politician from South Florida, who has known Rubio since his city councilman days in West Miami, told The Daily Caller.
“He said it was because we had bigger things to deal with on the state level. Maybe that’s true. But he didn’t even let bills to the floor when they sailed through committees,” the politician, who declined to speak on the record, added.
Rubio’s record is relevant now because he’s presented himself as a moderate backer for the Democratic-led “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. Proponents of the bill argue that its extensive loosening of immigration laws (including a “pathway to citizenship” that Rubio in 2010 described as “basically code for amnesty”) will be balanced by tougher enforcement.
But the record shows that Rubio used his power in Florida to block popular immigration-enforcement bills prior to his election-trail conversion into an immigration-hawk.
In the 2010 race, he criticized one of his opponents, Gov. Charlie Crist, for backing the amnesty proposal developed by Sen. John McCain and Ted Kennedy in 2006 and 2007.
“He would have voted for the McCain plan,” Rubio said. “I think that plan is wrong, and the reason I think it’s wrong is that if you grant amnesty … you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America,’ he said.
In 2007 and 2008, Rubio repeatedly kept tough reform bills from getting passed, despite a wave of public support for reforms.
Numerous enforcement proposals – ranging from bills requiring employers to check the status of workers to others mandating increased cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies – were blocked by Rubio even though they cleared bipartisan committees.
The bills in Florida’s Legislature would have penalized farmers and government contractors caught hiring undocumented workers; placed stricter regulations on public benefits; and required local police to notify federal authorities after arresting illegal immigrants.