Immigration reform advocates scorn Rubio after reversal

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is being jeered by advocates of greater immigration, following his weekend reversal on immigration policy, in which he urged Republican leaders in the House to oppose any major immigration bill until there is public consensus on the issue.

Rubio led the Senate’s approval of an ambitious immigration bill in June, and his sudden reversal will likely help GOP leaders fend off the rising demands for greater immigration from progressives, business groups and the media.

His reversal came only days before several hundred business, law enforcement and religious leaders flew into D.C. to lobby the GOP leaders.

“Moron,” said a morning tweet from Philip Wolgin, a senior policy analyst on immigration at the Center for American Progress, which backs the Senate bill.

“Dear @marcorubio, you may not be #Ready4Reform but America is,” claimed a tweet from Ali Noorani, director of the National Immigration forum, which is partly funded by progressive donor George Soros. Noorani’s group helped organize the fly-in of business leaders.

“Pandering not a profile in courage,” jeered Frank Sharry, the director of America’s Voice, an advocacy group that is backing the Senate bill.

“With Rubio abandoning his own [Senate] bill, the question is not whether he can win the White House in 2016, but whether he can hold his Senate seat,” said Ben Winograd, an immigration lawyer and a former lawyer at the American Immigration Council.

Rubio’s turnabout comes after he successfully led the effort in June to win GOP support for the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill. MATT LEWIS: Rubio always preffered a package of immigration bills

If approved by the House, it would bring in one immigrant or one guest worker for every American man and woman who turn 18 during the next decade. Overall, the bill would award roughly 33 million green cards to illegal immigrants and new immigrants over the next decade, in a time of accelerating automation, high unemployment and declining wages.

The Senate’s bill is dubbed a comprehensive immigration bill because it has features that have won the support of progressives, businesses and agriculture companies.

But many polls show the Senate bill is unpopular among swing voters, and especially among GOP-leaning voters. This unpopularity wrecked Rubio’s high poll ratings among Florida voters and GOP supporters, and has likely hurt his once-touted chance of winning the 2016 GOP nomination.

A September poll by Public Policy Polling, for example, showed that Rubio had only 43 percent approval in the state. He faced 45-percent disapproval.

On Oct. 26, Rubio told the Breitbart news site that he opposed any House passage of the Senate bill, and would prefer to see House leaders pass piece-meal bills to fix problem areas.

The reversal is costly for Rubio, who will likely lose support from the many business donors who want the extra customers and workers that would be delivered by the Senate immigration bill.

“The country needs to solve our immigration problems — and to solve them will require eventually dealing with every aspect of it,” Alex Conant, Rubio’s press aide, told The Daily Caller Monday.

“But in order to make progress, we need to be realistic in our expectations. An ‘all or nothing’ strategy on immigration reform would result in nothing,” said Conant.

The alternative to the comprehensive, or “all or nothing” bill, is a series of targeted bills. This piece-meal approach is strongly opposed by progressives, because it weakens political support for the award of an amnesty — and eventual citizenship — to at least 11 million Democratic-leaning illegal immigrants.

“What is keeping us from progress on a series of immigration issues on which there is strong consensus is the fear that a [Senate-House] conference committee on a limited bill will be used to negotiate a comprehensive one [so] we should take that [conference] option off the table so that we can begin to move on the things we agree on,” Conant said.

Despite the reversal, Rubio is not likely to get the trust of those who support low immigration levels.

“Like [Sen. John] McCain postelection, he’ll flip back” to support amnesty and greater immigration after the 2016 election, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which wants to reduce the current immigration rate of roughly one million people per year.

“Great 4 @marcorubio 2 realize support isn’t there for amnesty/2xImmigration,” said an Oct. 28 tweet from NumbersUSA, which rallies public support for scaled-back immigration. “But 2 late 4 piece meal after he poisoned well with Senate bill.”

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