Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has some trouble on his hands this week.
With the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration bill currently being discussed, it seems that political snares continue to bog down the sense of bipartisanship Rubio hopes to achieve. One of these snares results from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a Tea Party baby and policy hardliner,and his equally hard-line friends, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Mike Lee(R-Utah), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Cruz, who is of Cuban decent and is Canadian-born, stated last week that “the biggest obstacle to immigration reform is President Barack Obama” because of the White House’s insistence on a pathway to citizenship. While the president certainly feels strongly about this provision, so does the bipartisan group in the Gang of Eight who know that the bargaining chips for cooperation lay in striking a compromise between heightened border security and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The obvious observation here is that Obama isn’t the obstacle, and actually, neither is the Gang of Eight. It is Cruz and his gaggle of crazies who are trying to hold hostage the glimmer of hope Rubio has to push this legislation along. While Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is predicting 60 votes for the bill, enough to prompt action in the House, the Cruz Crazies issued this “Dear Colleague” letter that highlighted specific criticisms in the bill — one complaint in particular suggests that the immigration bill would offer “immediate” citizenship to illegal immigrants, when in fact, it would be a rigorous 13-year process.
As I mentioned in a previous PolicyMic op-ed, Republicans shake their fists over federal spending and attack blueprints for citizenship, then simultaneously ignore the possible $1.5 trillion in GDP over 10 years that granting legal status would provide, plus the $4.5-5.4 billion in tax revenues over three years. Among other things, there is the $18 billion already spent on immigration enforcement last year alone. I would ask Senator Cruz where the solutions are in the status quo.
So while Cruz and his friends run about, Rubio and the Gang of Eight will continue to water down their legislation for the sake of appeasement. What will result is a flimsy, confusing and amendment–packed bill that might pass the Senate but will remain unpalatable to House Republicans when it arrives in their chambers.
Indeed, if it is the likes of Cruz who put the last nail on the coffin of this bill in the Senate, it will only highlight and contribute to the persisting erosion of the GOP image, especially among Hispanics who have yet to feel welcomed by GOP leadership.
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