Rubio’s ‘Rush for the Border’

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Weekly Standard‘s John McCormack interviews Sen. Marco Rubio, who offers a defense for putting quick legalization (of currently unlawful immigrants) ahead of guaranteeing that border enforcement mechanisms–like the E-Verify system for checking new hires–are in place:

Q: Would some enforcement triggers have to take effect before any legalization happens, and then others would have to take effect before the green card process opens up?

RUBIO: My original position, when I first started looking at this, is let’s do the enforcement and the modernization of the systems first and when all that is in place, then we can start the work-permit process. The argument against that is that if people know that in the future you’re going to be giving out work permits to people who are here, that gives people incentive to people who are here to overstay their visas or for people to try to get in.

If the word gets out that in a couple years when the border is secured we’re going to be giving work permits to people who are undocumented, that creates an incentive for people to rush in and get here before that happens.

What we ultimately settled on is we wanted to freeze the numbers we have now before the problem got worse. And the way you do that is bringing people out right now and saying from this point forward this will not be available to anybody else. But I think there’s going to be an effort to argue that even the legalization process should wait until the enforcement measures are put in place. I’m already hearing that being argued by some. [E.A. ]

Given the other hooey Rubio slings in the interview–e.g., for whose who would instantly be given permission to live here, “The only thing they’re going to get is the chance to apply for a green card”–I suspect his “rush for the border” argument is hooey too.

Any amnesty bill will that can pass will have a cutoff date–say March 1, 2013–after which you aren’t allowed to sneak into the country and claim an amnesty. You’ll have to prove you were here before then through purchase receipts or other evidence, which some people who “rush” in after March 1 will try to falsify.

Under Rubio’s plan, apparently, there would be a second cutoff–say a year after the first cutoff–after which even those illegals who were here before March 1 couldn’t obtain their “probationary legal status” even if they’d qualified.

What if they could prove they were here but claimed they had been having trouble coming up with the money to pay their “fine” and “back taxes,” and had stayed in the shadows past the deadline?

Let’s assume Rubio would be a hard-ass and tell these late applicants “tough luck.” (What’s he going to do then, deport them all? There might be more of them than he seems to think, at least if the fines are at all substantial.) Why is this system so much better than an “enforcement first” sequence where you announce, as Rubio put it, that ” in a couple years when the border is secured we’re going to be giving work permits to people who are undocumented”? You could still require that anyone would have to prove they were here before March 1, 2013 to qualify for this future amnesty–through the same rent receipts, etc. And you’d announce that you were going to require it. Those who came after March 1 would have to arrive undetected and then commit fraud–and you could make the punishment for any fraud relatively severe.

Some fraud would undoubtedly still succeed, maybe more fraud than would be committed by the border-rushers who come into the country illegally during the (hypothetical)  year-long application period in Rubio’s plan.

But the tradeoff, remember, is that by making effective enforcement the precondition for legalization, there’d be a fighting chance that the enforcement would actually happen.

Anyway, it’s silly to have this discussion. “Comprehensive” supporters have assured us nobody wants to sneak into the U.S. anymore, and in any case the border is already totally secure (“Mission Accomplished“).

If I’m missing anything, please let me know! …

P.S.: Also, am I crazy or does Rubio seem slightly receptive to flipping the sequence, so that legalization would “wait until the enforcement measures are put in place”?

P.P.S.: Under either plan–under any amnesty– you’d attract people who unlawfully cross the border (or overstay their visas) in the hope of catching the next amnesty. Judging from some reports of yesterday’s testimony, it might not be long in coming. …

At the end of his Weekly Standard interview, Rubio claims he would “deport” these “future” illegals. Even if the Latino vote’s at stake? …


New Obama White House Slogan: “We won’t torture you. We won’t deport you. We might kill you.”

Mickey Kaus