Immigration reform is term that makes people bristle on both sides of the aisle. Today's efforts toward immigration reform bring back memories of the failed 2006 attempt, during George W. Bush's second term, to bring lasting resolve to the issue. Today, we find ourselves in a similar place, but Republicans have a new man with a plan in Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose fate in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination rests with this success or failure.
Granted, immigration reform is fraught with compromise. Hence, the dreaded 'amnesty' for illegal immigrants already living in this country. But options for dealing with this problem are few. Politicians can either do nothing, or work together to try to mend the unfixable problem. Enter Rubio, and seven other senators deemed the "Gang of Eight," a coalition of Republican and Democrat senators aimed at reaching a compromise on this important issue.
Rubio, the youngest of the "Gang of Eight" has emerged with the most riding on the plan. The plan is for illegal immigrants to pass criminal background checks, hold down a job, pay fines and back taxes, and then go to the back of the line. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said Rubio's plan offers "very little difference" from his failed plan proposed in 2006 and 2007. McCain is right.
For all his previous talk about the dangers of amnesty, Rubio has changed since 2010. In a 2010 Fox News debate with then-Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R), Rubio said he thought the McCain plan "was wrong." But Rubio's place in the GOP has altered considerably since 2010: he is now a frontrunner in the pending Republican presidential race. Being a first generation Cuban-American, he realizes the value of the Hispanic vote for Republicans.
Pivoting on issues is not uncommon in politics. We expect it, we look for it, and we know it is going to happen. But in Rubio, and his idea for tighter border security, temporary work visas for low-skilled workers, an increase in visas for highly-skilled workers, and a way for illegal immigrants to earn legitimate citizenship, there is hope that progress can be made regarding immigration reform. The most important issue that has to be addressed is strengthening border security.
Rubio represents new blood being infused into the GOP. Immigration reform means compromising and there is no other way to approach the issue. Rubio's plan is far from perfect, but logically speaking, there is no way to get nearly 12 million illegal immigrants out of the country in one single sweep. Rubio is prepping for his future as a leader in the Republican Party. If he can pull off immigration reform, he should be well on his way to earning his place amongst the political elite.