1. According to bordercontrolnow.com, an April 17, 2008 Miami Herald article reported that Speaker Rubio had conspired with other House representatives to stymie House bills 73, 159, 571, 577, and 821, all related to combating illegal immigration. The crux of the allegations is that Rubio had decided the bills would die even before the start of the 2008 legislative session. Moreover, Speaker Rubio failed to give his critical support of the bills so that they could make it out of the House and Senate committees and onto the floor for a vote.
2. In a thorough interview with the Conservative Republican Alliance sometime in March of 2009, Candidate Rubio explained the circumstances. Rubio begins by saying that he does not know why the bills never made it out of the committees. Then, Rubio asserts that because a legislative session consists of only 60 days, he mandated the committees to combine the 6 bills into 1. Unfortunately, according to Rubio, the committees failed to do this and, therefore, the bills never made it out of the committees onto the floor. Essentially, Rubio points to an insurmountable procedural hurdle.
Notwithstanding, however, in the same interview, Candidate Rubio explains, at some length, his current position on illegal immigration. Rubio claims that he is "strongly against amnesty" and illegal immigration, and that he fully supports border enforcement. To bolster his position, Rubio reasons that rewarding illegal immigrants by legalizing them demoralizes legal immigrants and law enforcement agencies. Rubio emphatically asserts that he will never support "blanket legalization amnesty."
Rubio concludes with a political caveat stating that illegal immigration is a federal issue and that Republicans need to be cautious in their "rhetoric and attitude" in discussing illegal immigration because "people have come to believe that not only are we against illegal immigration, but that we actually hate the immigrant." (Rubio presumably refers to the "the immigrant" in the abstract sense.)
3. On May 13, 2009, National Review's David Freddoso interviewed Marco Rubio. Among the issues discussed was Rubio's position on illegal immigration. Here's the relevant Q & A.
"FREDDOSO: You'd be succeeding Mel Martinez. How would you rate his performance as senator?
RUBIO: I would just say that Mel is a friend, someone I admire and respect . . . There's nothing about Mel that I am disappointed in today. I think he's done the best he can under the circumstances. On immigration, he voted for a package I probably would not have voted for, because I believe we've got to secure the borders in our existing system first before we can even begin to have a conversation about the other elements of immigration. But I have nothing but good things to say about Mel."
4. On May 16, 2009, Miami Herald blogger Beth Reinhard reported the following:
"In response to a question about immigration, Rubio dropped his previous pleas against harsh attacks on illegal workers. He said he would not have voted in favor of the legislation - backed by Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez - that would have allowed illegal workers to earn legal status, which he called 'blanket legalization'."
5. Last but not least, on June 2, 2009, Marco Rubio stated on The Ed Morrissey Show: "I am for securing our borders, and I am not in favor of amnesty."
It certainly appears that Marco Rubio has had some conflicting views on illegal immigration. I'm still not sure what actually happened to the Bills back in 2008, and I'm not willing to take what the Miami Herald reports as fact. The thought that Rubio and other House reps conspired to kill the bills seem a bit far-fetched. Regardless, the possible hurdles that face a bill in the state legislature are numerous. And yes, the 60-day time frame is one of them. During each session, legislatures work to make new laws, change old one, and essentially "clean house." It makes sense that Rubio wanted 6 bills combined into 1 for legislative efficiency. Moreover, making it out of the committees is only the first step of the long assembly process of an idea becoming law. In 2008, with the makeup of the state Senate, even if it did make it out of the committees, it is highly unlikely that it would've passed in the Senate. If the Senate wouldn't have killed it, Governor Crist certainly would have.
Since then, Marco Rubio has been pretty clear on where he stands on this critical issue, as is evidenced by his interview with CRA, Freddoso, and Ed Morrissey. Rubio is certainly no Tancredo (which I think may be more of a good thing than bad), but he appears to have the necessary will to fight for a robust federal policy against illegal immigration.
In all, illegal immigration is one issue, albeit a critical issue. Equally critical, however, are his positions on the role and size of government, the role of the judiciary, domestic economic policy, foreign policy, national security, and social policy, to name a few. When combined, Marco Rubio seems to be the candidate we need in that Senate seat in order to have a fighting chance against the Democrats going forward. But again, we have about 15 months to go until the Primary election That's a long time in politics. Regardless of what your position about Rubio is now, let's try not to strangle the baby in the crib with premature judgment calls.
Stay tuned for updates.
At your service,