Marco Rubio’s Immigration Plan is Bold, Pragmatic, and Comprehensive

Whether Marco Rubio is seriously considering a presidential run in 2016 the way many of us would want him to, his immigration plan should be taken seriously as a pragmatic answer to many of our problems.

The biggest political stumbling block will be on current illegal immigrants, not because he has a bad plan, but because so many demand a hard-line on deportation that we just don’t have the political capital to enforce, after losing an election, holding only the House, and facing a rising Hispanic demographic that threatens to become another 95% minority voting bloc for the Democrats.

From the WSJ:

“Here’s how I envision it,” he says. “They would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check.” Anyone who committed a serious crime would be deported. “They would be fingerprinted,” he continues. “They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they’ve been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country.”

While many would rather see all illegals deported, I think this is a reasonable compromise. Too much of the problem with illegals in America is cultural – if Rubio’s plan makes some honest provisions for securing assimilation into our American culture (yes, we have one), everyone would be better off, and America would be strengthened by immigrants instead of being weakened.

The special regime he envisions is a form of temporary limbo. “Assuming they haven’t violated any of the conditions of that status,” he says, the newly legalized person could apply for permanent residency, possibly leading to citizenship, after some years—but Mr. Rubio doesn’t specify how many years. He says he would also want to ensure that enforcement has improved before opening that gate.

This could be a bargaining chip – the GOP should begin with a lengthier period and negotiate for passage of legislation with a moderate, but reasonable length of time implemented. That would give Democrats something to pat themselves on the back for, and buy into the legislation.

The waiting time for a green card “would have to be long enough to ensure that it’s not easier to do it this way than it would be the legal way,” he says. “But it can’t be indefinite either. I mean it can’t be unrealistic, because then you’re not really accomplishing anything. It’s not good for our country to have people trapped in this status forever. It’s been a disaster for Europe.”

I’m very impressed that he contrasts his plan with the deplorable situation in Europe where even legal immigrants are second and third class citizens. But he also recognizes the problem with equating illegals with those who applied for immigration legally – if you reward undesired behavior, you get more of it. This plan rewards those who followed the rules over those who didn’t.

Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller added further clarified this with a detail straight from Marco Rubio:

 When they complete probationary phase, they get access to [the] existing legal immigration system. They must wait in line and must qualify for existing visa program (not a special one). They do not get a special pathway.

Another issue many are concerned with is the economic impact of illegal immigrants, especially on the abuse of federal social welfare programs. Again via Matt Lewis: 

 1. While in the legal status probationary phase, undocumented immigrants would not qualify for any federal assistance.

This sounds great, but might be more complicated when we descend into the details – much of the abuse comes from illegal alien parents receiving benefits for their legal citizen children who were born here. Still, if this can be addressed well, it would go a long way towards mollifying some critics from the right.

Ed Morrissey  has a great summary at Hot Air:

The plan offers a number of “modules” that are very familiar, but in a new combination, or so Rubio hopes. It comprises:

  • Gain “operational control” of the border first
  • Enhance employment checks
  • Raise the hard cap on high-tech immigration
  • Create a guest-worker program for low-skill labor
  • A lengthy but not indefinite process for normalizing longer-term illegal residents

The last module will run into considerable opposition from Rubio’s Republican colleagues, who will insist that no amnesty be offered.  Rubio doesn’t see it as amnesty, but as a way to first identify the people who need to be deported, and then to eliminate the permanent underclass of legal-limbo residents. 

Ed Morrissey identifies immediate problems with the plan that I noticed too:

I’d like to see more detail… [on] the method of enforcing that and the commitment to deporting those with criminal records (other than that which attends their immigration status).  The method of certifying border security matters a great deal, too, of course, and the commitment from Democrats this time around to actually securing the border, rather than the double-talk Ronald Reagan got in 1986.  These are not mere details, but critical to the nature of the approach.

Overall, I like the plan a lot. I think it’s a great start, and Marco Rubio is very courageous in putting his neck out, knowing there are many out there just salivating to try to lop his head off. He will get push back from both sides, but I’m hopeful that some compromise is within grasp so that we can finally put behind us this issue that greatly drags on America economically and culturally.

 cross-posted at
  • I love ya Sooper but Marco Rubio is constitutionally ineligible to be President. Please quit doing what DEMS do by ripping our Constitution to fit an agenda. [And no, you don’t need to deport all illegals. As Georgia proved, they will self-deport if the consequence is too large. Furthermore, it never addresses the problem of those currently “in line” for citizenship who are obeying our laws. You simply can’t reward criminal behavior, but you don’t have to be hateful in giving those who go through a process to eventually prove they are worthy of remaining

  • fsm_47

    I like it, Living in a border state, this makes sense

  • JM_in_WASH

    Whether anyone likes it or not, being born on US soil makes one a natural born citizen and therefore eligible to be President of the US.
    The point of contention for some is with high unemployment, to have to compete right now for jobs with illegals or resident legal aliens? especially in the fields of construction and landscaping is frustrating. American citizens need to have 1st priority for jobs.
    Rubio’s plan has promise when unemployment is lower.

  • VRWCTroll

    Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha, You better look this over again. This is the Simpson-Mazzoli act of 1986 (IRCA) again! First of all, will this plan prevent more illegal immigration? No because it does not acknowledge the means by which illegals get in here and then live. Second, will this act work within the confines of Title 8 and the Walter-McCarran Immigration and Naturalization act of 1952? Those bodies of law are the bedrock of our immigration system. What people do not know is that due to legislation, court decisions and other things is that there are so many waivers/exemptions to the bar of inadmissibility that the current laws have all but been rendered irrelevant. The agency that handles the processing of applications for immigration benefits (in reality, priviledges) is – oh and one moment (THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICES DOES NOT EXIST ANYMORE! IT’S DEAD, DUE TO 9-11!!!) – is called United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This agency hands out green cards and citizenship. That organization cannot handle the volume of requests that it has to process every year. Do not let them deceive you, in order to make the paperwork go away, they will give out benefits in order to make life easier on themselves. If you do not believe me, go and review all of the a-files at the National Record Center.

  • The GOP has primarily been divided between two philosophies, one based on Principles and the other of Pragmatism which is how they justify ignoring or reinterpreting the Constitution for example when it serves their purposes.

    Good response Jim.

  • I agree. Except its not just the GOP. It’s life. Principles often have to give way to pragmatism.

  • I agree that it’s all of life not just the GOP but I was specifically discussing the GOP. We have all been given the choice to choose which path we will take, I would strongly discourage the path of pragmatism.

    Principles are based in truth or they are not principles at all, by abandoning principles you abandon the truth and for what, a pragmatic theory? You can challenge a Principle on it’s validity but to dismiss it because it is a inconvenience is wrong.

    Pragmatists said that Romney was the only one who could and would beat Obama so we needed to abandon our conservative principles to vote for Mr. “Severely Conservative”. Instead of standing on principle, republicans caved and voted for the lesser of two evils. What message did that send to the Establishment?

    What truth will you deny next in the name of pragmatism? If you knowingly throw one principle under the bus, where does it stop?

    “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.” –George W. Bush

    “Madame Speaker, this bill offends my principles. But I’m going to vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles.” -Paul Ryan

    Say what? How does that work exactly? This is the absurdity that comes from pragmatism.

    Pragmatism is the antithesis of principles and is a close cousin of relativism. It is never a path you want to head down. We all make mistakes and sin, what is important is if we learn from those mistakes or not.

    “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” -John Quincy Adams

  • I was no Romney fan during the primaries. Immigration policy is not something that has absolute principles. There are many ways in which it can be decided. Yelling “principles!” loudly won’t change the fact that we don’t control government and can’t push our legislation through without Democrats. So you can keep yelling louder and keep losing, or we can begin to solve our immigration problems. I suppose you’ll keep yelling.

  • I like Rubio but his plan won’t solve the U.S. illegal immigration problem.

    First off, are you willing to trust Obama and the democrats on border enforcement? Duh!

    So basically what republicans are getting for their compromise is amnesty for a “promise” of a more robust border enforcement (ie continued de facto open borders, judging from obama DOJ’s (non) actions and the president’s E.O.)

    there are two truths in this illegal immigration issue about republicans and democrats. Democrat politicians want illegals for their vote, and Republican Big Business want them for cheap labor.

    My thoughts on those truths:

    1) can a republican presidential candidate ever win another election again if 12 million illegal aliens were allowed to vote?

    2) incomes from upper middle class and the rich continue to rise, but for lower income americans, it remains stagnant. gee, i wonder why… #incomeinequality

  • to be honest, i’m less concerned about “border security” and i’m more than willing to use legalization as a bargaining chip for a more effective guest worker program.

    rubio’s proposal doesnt even begin to address future and long term illegal immigration–which means history will repeat itself in 15 to 20 years time (amnesty 3.0 and DreamAct 2.0) You want to rest your immigration reform on the promise of more robust border enforcement? even reagan was taken to the cleaners by democrats on this.

    here’s a more effective way to solve the problem based on studying guest worker programs in hong kong and saudi arabia. the basic minimum repubicans should demand in exchange for a pathway to legalization are:

    1)end free k-12 education for future illegal aliens
    2)no more automatic citizenship for children born in the U.S. to 2 non-american parents.

    if those 2 conditions cannot be met, then i’d have to vote no on reform.

    before the 80s, mexican migrant workers, once their seasonal farm work is done, used to return home to mexico and not stay in the U.S. Why? because their children and wife are in mexico. but after the plyler doe decision, more and more mexican workers stayed in the U.S…

  • If you don’t yell while reading my post, there won’t be any yelling.
    There was and is no yelling coming from me. Your argument suggests that you did not have a proper rebuttal and therefore resorted to ad-hominem. Was that the best argument you could come with in defense of your philosophy of Pragmatism?

    Principles: a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived.

    Yelling against “principles” has not gained you anything yet and never will. What a ridiculous position to take. My original comment to PolitiJim was in reference to people ignoring the fact that Rubio is Constitutionally ineligible to be President, not about illegal immigration policy. I never said that there was only one absolute principle when it comes to immigration, but whatever that policy maybe must be in alignment of the Nation’s principles or it will be destructive.

    Until the borders are secure, there can be no honest discussion about immigration policy. We have already tried doing it the other way and it does not work. Why? Because of unprincipled politicians that keep getting re-elected. Secure the borders first then we will talk about what to do with the people already here and future immigrants.

    As for working together with the democrats, how does compromising with socialism win us anything?

    “There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube . . .

    When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute, when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it’s picked up by scoundrels—and you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising evil.” Ayn Rand

    Don’t worry, I will leave you alone with your “beliefs”. It is pointless to argue with a pragmatist/relativist because they change their position to whatever they think serves them best at the moment, even when it conflicts with a recently held position. I wonder if there is any correlation between pragmatists/relativists and compulsive disorders? Hmmmmmmm……

    “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” –Alexander Hamilton.

    Have a nice day and remember, there was no yelling from here.

  • Pingback: ABC/Univision “Journalists” Lie About Paul Ryan’s Rubio Plan Endorsement to Make Him Appear Racist | SOOPERMEXICAN()

  • Pingback: NO Illegal Amnesty Without Border Security: Reject Any Rehash of Reagan’s Immigration Error | SOOPERMEXICAN()