Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced his support for an immigration reform bill that will involve his extensive media promotion. His involvement will result in either one of two ways. The move will either propel him to the front line for a 2016 GOP presidential nod, or he could lose support from conservatives all together. Rubio's actions are indicative of a larger trend wherein more conservative politicians are leaning left to gain voters. However this attempt at adapting to more liberal issues may compromise his future political prospects.
The details of the legislation have yet to be released, but some level of controversy can be expected based on the subject matter of immigration. Nonetheless, Rubio has reaffirmed his advocacy for the potential legislation.
"Obviously, we’ll be informing the public, and we’ll want everyone to know everything that’s in the bill. We want everyone to know as much of what’s in the bill as possible, and we will use every opportunity we have to communicate that," Rubio informed POLITICO Thursday.
Rubio is not the first high profile conservative to lean left towards immigration policy. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) received negative backlash in a town hall meeting with his constituents in February, when he advocated for illegal aliens to have more pathways toward citizenship. While both McCain and Rubio are beginning to leave behind the GOP status quo mantra, many of their conservative counterparts will not take new immigration policies lightly.
Rubio has since joined forces with McCain and other Senate Republicans to promote the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee. While a formal document has not been released, a component of the bill will call for a rewrite of U.S. visa terms, as well as provide illegal immigrants the opportunity to gain citizenship after 13 years of claiming residency. While the legislation will also call for increased border security, the citizen component will be at the forefront of a potential divide in partisanship among conservatives.
What comes into play is what Rubio's stance will be when dealing with potential amendments to the legislation. When asked if he would support his group of conservatives to take down opposition to the bill, Rubio played coy.
"I don’t think that is the game plan. I think the game plan is any amendments or any ideas that make the bill better that actually improve the product is something we would be open to," he said.
While the legislation will most likely raise tensions in the Senate, Rubio as of now remains a GOP heavyweight and strong contender for a 2016 nomination. With Rubio's Latin American heritage, he can potentially gain a vast electorate that the GOP has been lacking. Regardless, his political career may be compromised by supporting this legislation if he manages to alienate the traditional GOP base.