According to Jack Oliver, legislative director of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, Senate Bill 744 would have given work permits and legalization to over 11 million illegal aliens, doubled authorized immigration to 22 million over the next decade, and added millions to welfare and entitlement rolls. Oliver called it “amnesty first and a promise for enforcement later.” He contended that the bill never would have gotten through the Senate without Rubio acting as the immigrant “poster child” of the sponsoring “Gang of Eight.” The immigration bill would change demographics forever, with Democrats fast-tracking the newly legalized immigrants to citizenship and voting rolls.
Going into the Republican debate of February 13 there was much speculation about whether Senator Marco Rubio could recover from his faltering at Chris Christie’s cross-examination about immigration during the debate in New Hampshire. The punditry ascribed Rubio’s “robotic” performance, the repetition of the line that Obama “knows exactly what he’s doing,” to having a “bad night.” Rubio’s campaign used the same spin, as a day-after fundraising email indicated, by claiming he had “dropped the ball,” that it would “never happen again.” He also claimed to know about “tough times,” based on his father’s life story. He used the example of having to move to Las Vegas when his father lost his job as an apartment manager, but then had to start over as a busboy before he went on to become a bartender again.
But it does not appear that Marco Rubio ever had to compete with an illegal alien for a job such as busboy or construction laborer. Little was said about the substance of the questions that unnerved Rubio so much in New Hampshire.
Moments after the February 13 debate, Rubio supporters skirted the immigration debate again. Congressman Trey Gowdy told Fox News that Rubio had had the “courage” to change his mind about immigration, which is what Rubio had tried to say once when Christie pressed him about not pushing his own bill, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” Senate Bill 744. Rubio had claimed that he did not back the immigration bill once he learned that the “American people” did not like it. Actually, if Rubio were walking back his immigration position, he would be going back to his original position, if we could believe what he told Florida tea party members as he sought their support for his bid for Senate in 2010.
Perhaps the reason Rubio faltered so badly under Christie’s cross-examination was because he heard the sound of “traitor” ringing in his ears, the shouts of these fellow Floridians, whose hands he had shaken as he promised to stand firm on immigration.
The occasion was the Americans for Prosperity Foundation conference, on Labor Day weekend, 2013, in Orlando. As the shouts of “traitor” came from the audience of 2,000, Rubio continued on with his speech, but became visibly flustered and faltered.
I was at that event in 2013 and wrote about it. I talked to one of the protestors in the hallway wearing bright pink t-shirts emblazoned with “Pink Slip Rubio.com,” Jack Oliver, legislative director of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, who felt betrayed by Rubio, who had shaken his hand and promised that he would never support comprehensive reform, legalization, or the Dream Act.
Oliver began his career in construction as a plasterer laborer in 1968, a time when such a trade could support a family, but saw his wages drop 30 percent under George W. Bush’s lax immigration policies. As a field superintendant he saw that construction workers were making less in actual dollars than what they had been making in the 1980s. The black community had been especially hard hit as construction labor jobs were taken over by illegal aliens.
According to Oliver, Senate Bill 744 would have given work permits and legalization to over 11 million illegal aliens, doubled authorized immigration to 22 million over the next decade, and added millions to welfare and entitlement rolls. Oliver called it “amnesty first and a promise for enforcement later.” He contended that the bill never would have gotten through the Senate without Rubio acting as the immigrant “poster child” of the sponsoring “Gang of Eight.” The immigration bill would change demographics forever, with Democrats fast-tracking the newly legalized immigrants to citizenship and voting rolls.
And lest anyone dismiss these opinions as those of a mere tea party activist/construction worker, Emory political science professor Alan Abramowitz, said the same thing in Atlanta the previous year as he predicted a Democratic victory due to changed demographics. The importation of Democratic voters helped in Obama’s reelection as did the fact that disgusted white middle class voters simply did not vote. Similarly, conservative Hispanics do not vote for those who adopt the policies of the left.
Yes, as Rubio says, Obama knows exactly what he is doing when it comes to “transforming” this nation. Obama promised to do that when he campaigned. A large part of that transformation is coming from opening the borders to illegal aliens. Entire neighborhoods have been transformed and not for the better as I saw as I drove through Florida in 2013. For the most part, these illegals do not resemble the legal immigrants of earlier generations. Schools have decayed. Welfare rolls have exploded. Crime has risen.
Those who helped put Rubio in the Senate were not in the debate room on Saturday night and could not shout “traitor” at him again. Nor are they privy to backroom deals or to what Rubio tells other Spanish speakers. On February 13, when Ted Cruz attacked Rubio for his “Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan” and for going on Univision and speaking in Spanish, Rubio mocked Cruz by implying he couldn’t speak Spanish. It was a telling moment.
Unfortunately, Cruz fell for it, and said something in Spanish that hundreds of millions of Americans couldn’t understand. Among these millions are those who have lost their jobs to illegal aliens and to new positions that require bilingual speakers. They are fed up with Obama’s executive orders that bypass the laws and allow in “undocumented” aliens who bring with them criminal records, diseases, and illiteracy. They are disgusted when Obama tells them to learn Spanish. They are fed up with having to “press one for English” and watching illegal aliens shouting protest slogans in front of state capitols. That is why Donald Trump’s message has been resonating.
Cruz would do himself a favor by reminding Rubio of the manners that generations of immigrants learned: one does not exclude certain people by having a side conversation in his native language.
To do so, to similarly go to foreign-language media as a senator, might make voters think that you have something to hide.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research website. The feature image is of Jorge Ramos of UNIVISION interviewing Senator Marco Rubio