Marco Rubio Sells Out the DREAMers and His Principles

But then what's new with the Florida senator?


You'd have to be pretty heartless and obtuse to the dangers of growing a police state to oppose legal status for DREAMers—people who were brought to the

Immigration Rally
Elvert Barnes via

United States illegally when they were children—and set them up for deportation.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is apparently of the requisite heartlessness and obtuseness.

Rubio declared last week that he can't support the bipartisan Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that some of his Senate colleagues are desperately trying to enact to make DREAMers off-limits to the Trump administration's harsh deportation regime. Regrettably, instead of embracing compassion, he's throwing in his lot with Trump's gang of cruel restrictionists.

Now, President Trump has repeatedly assured us that he has a "big heart" and would concentrate on deporting "bad hombres" while "taking care" of DREAMers. The reality, however, is quite different.

A bit of background: President Obama created the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that, as its name suggests, deferred deportation proceedings against DREAMers and handed them temporary work permits. But DACA does not offer any guarantee against detention or deportation, just a postponement. Its protection can be rescinded for the slightest of infractions—even traffic violations—which is what Trump has effectively been doing.

In other words, Trump has left DACA in place but rendered it essentially toothless. Even so, 10 hardline attorneys general from red states are not satisfied. They have given Trump an ultimatum and told him he has to totally scrap the program or they'll sue, just as they did with President Obama's DAPA initiative that gave a temporary reprieve even to parents of DREAMers. If the administration obliges them—or declines to fight them in court—all 1.8 million DREAMers could eventually be deported, including the 750,000 who have DACA status.

Please remember: These are people who had no say in how they were brought to America, and who have lived in this country practically their whole lives with little to no contact with their birth land. They deserve compassion, not icy cruelty, especially since deporting just 750,000 would cost Uncle Sam $60 billion and lead to $280 billion in economic losses over the next decade.

To that end, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have dusted off the DREAM Act, which would hand green cards to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children so long as they (i) graduate from high school or serve in the military; (ii) pass a background check; (iii) speak English; (iv) demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history; and (v) pay a fee. About 1.5 million DREAMers are expected to qualify because they tend to be hardworking, law-abiding people who desperately want to come out of the shadows and participate fully in American life.

Even many vocal immigration hawks don't have a problem with giving these DREAMers legal status so long as it's done via legislative rather than executive action. Rush Limbaugh, who has single-handedly killed many an immigration reform bill, has conceded that "no one's gonna win by deporting a bunch of kids that we let in." Likewise, Pat Robertson, who has derided undocumented immigrants as "moochers," admits that DREAMers are not criminals. "They're teaching kindergarten, for heaven's sake," he says. "They ought to stay. They enrich our society. They bless our society, and what have we got to loose." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another immigration opponent and Trump ally, counsels: "Why pick a fight over this group of people who have a lot of emotional stories to tell?" Even more to the point, polls show that 75 percent of Trump supportersTrump supporters—don't want DREAMers booted out for the sins of their parents, and actually want them legalized.

So who on Earth are the opponents of the DREAM Act?

Breitbart, the rabid online mouthpiece of immigration hawks, of course. The right-wing nationalist website is trying to kill the bill by calling it amnesty, a curse word in ultra-restrictionist circles. And then there are all the outfits that are part of the quasi-racist FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) network, including the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA. Both of their leaders are vehemently opposed to any relief for DREAMers without tough border restrictions first.

And now Marco Rubio has jumped on their side.

The Florida senator has declared that he can't support the Graham-Durbin effort because it does not take into account the "reality of the situation" and guard against "unintended consequences." What reality? What unintended consequences? Apparently, Rubio fears that this law will be misinterpreted in Central America and encourage kids to show up on U.S. shores in the hopes of getting amnesty, fueling a repeat of the 2014 unaccompanied minor crisis. But the notion that amnesty—not the labor needs of the American economy or the dangerous conditions in their own countries—drives desperate foreigners to risk their lives to come to the United States is a right-wing trope with little basis in reality.

The fact is that the "unintended consequences" Rubio is concerned about are for his own political career. He was one of the Gang of Eight senators whose support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013 made him the favorite whipping boy of ultra-restrictionists in the last presidential election and no doubt (in his mind) cost him the Republican nomination. His opposition to the DREAM Act is now surely calculated to avoid giving them any reason to target him in 2020, should he decide to run again.

But going full Breitbart is unlikely to prove a winning strategy. President Trump derided Rubio as "Little Marco" during the campaign. Rubio could use the DREAM Act to stand up to Trump and ask him to produce that "big heart" he claims to have and sign the bill. Stooping to the level of the restrictionist fringe, unfortunately, would only prove Trump right about him.

This column originally appeared in The Week.

NEXT: Jeff Flake's Conscience Is Good for Libertarians—and the Country

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  1. The children are victims of human trafficking so treat them like the sex-worker victims of human trafficking and throw their ass in jail. That'll learn them to be victims.

  2. Researching the wordpohliselended me a different meaning to the Alt-Text.

  3. Lying Nick, followed almost immediately by Dipshit Scumbagetta. All we need is Suderman, Suave, Brown, and Chapman and we can have a full six-pack!

    1. You should probably stop coming to Hit'n'Run then.

  4. "extreme immigration restrictionists" = people who only want legal immigration

    1. "extreme immigration restrictionists" = people who think that laws should be applied as written in order to maintain the very concept of 'law'.

      1. That isn't what's going on in this case. The DREAM Act is an attempt to change the written law, through normal legislative process. It's not failing to apply existing laws, it's changing/repealing those laws.

        That means that in this case, all those restrictionists who claim to only be against "illegal" immigration don't have a leg to stand on. We aren't talking about giving amnesty to lawbreakers. We're talking about changing the law so that they aren't lawbreakers anymore.

        This in turn means that anyone who opposes the DREAM Act has shown their true colors. They are people who oppose immigration, not people who want the law to be enforced.

        1. You mean changing the law to give amnesty to existing lawbreakers.

      2. There is absolutely no reason they need to be given green cards. Congress is perfectly able to create a new immigration status that would legalize them while simultaneously disallowing some of the privileges that come with green cards. This would garner more support for legalization and would be a good compromise. Instead, everyone is restricting themselves to the options currently available: Citizenship, Permanent Residency (green cards), or deportation. (Visas ultimately mean going back to the country of origin, too.)

        1. What? And alienate a massive voter base? Nope. Congress will keep the spigot on and subsize illegal immigration at the expense of poor and middle class American's to capture their votes while the American's getting the shaft are lied to by Big Media to keep them ignorant and compliant.

          1. To many of,the commentariat, poor and middle class voters getting the shaft in exchange for open borders is just tough shit. Because open borders are so important.

      3. to maintain the very concept of 'law'

        "Because it's the law" isn't that great of a concept, though.

        1. In the case of immigration, way better than what's going on now.

    2. "extreme immigration restrictionists" = people who only want legal immigration to be so restrictive that none gets in at all.


      1. So, no one, then.

    3. Re: I can't even,

      "extreme immigration restrictionists" = people who only want legal immigration

      Same way Prohibitionists only wanted legal alcohol drinking...

      Trumpistas are lying when they say they want legal immigration. They want NO immigration. Period.

      1. "Trumpistas are lying when they say they want legal immigration. They want NO immigration. Period."

        Bullshit. That's a fucking lazy argument to lump anyone opposed to illegal immigration in with xenophobic bigots, so that you can then ignore their argument completely. I'm sure as hell NOT a "Trumpista," but I do believe that favoring legal immigration, even at increased levels, is entirely compatible with wanting to limit illegal immigration.

        Do you ever let people into your home? Of course you do. It may even be possible that you should let more come in. But WHO SHOULD DECIDE who, and how many? You, or the people who want in? You're either an idiot or a goddamned liar if you say there's any substantial difference between that question, and the question of the validity of favoring LEGAL immigration while simultaneously opposing uncontrolled ILLEGAL immigration.

    4. "extreme immigration restrictionists" = people who only want legal immigration

      And to never make legal immigration easier.

      1. This nation is overpopulated and bottom-heavy with unskilled labor - we want to make immigration more difficult, yes.

  5. "But the notion that amnesty?not the labor needs of the American economy or the dangerous conditions in their own countries?drives desperate foreigners to risk their lives to come to the United States is a right-wing trope with little basis in reality."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there a huge surge in families and unaccompanied minors, especially from Central America, when Obama started handing out executive amnesty for kids?

    1. The increase in the number of families and unaccompanied minors started when border crossings became more difficult and illegals stopped going back to Mexico to be with their families periodically.

      The typical illegal immigrant used to come to the US for a few years to make and save money. They would then go back to Mexico and buy a house and/or set up a small business and would only come back to the US if they wanted a few months of US wages.

      They rarely wanted permanent residence or citizenship.

      This is still pretty much the case except that political unrest and criminality has made it so some want to come and stay especially from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Some from those countries get asylum others are told they're out of luck.

  6. Breitbart, the rabid online mouthpiece of immigration hawks

    I'll grant that Breitbart the man was philosophically better than the slant of the website that bares his name...

    The right-wing nationalist website

    Jesus titty-fucking christ. Take a chill pill and stop reading SPLC bulletins.

    1. Um...

      "He [Bannon] acknowledges that the site is "edgy" but insists it is "vibrant." He offers his own definition of the alt-right movement and explains how he sees it fitting into Breitbart. "Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very NATIONALIST, terribly anti-establishment."

      1. "Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very NATIONALIST, terribly anti-establishment."

        In other words, people who watch Alex Jones. That was one hell of a brilliant move for Bannon to target that demographic of consumers. Jones has raked in huge profits at Infowars.

    2. It doesn't say WHITE nationalist. Just nationalist. And they're right wing, no?

  7. Don't mince words, Shikha. FAIR is a racist organization, not a "quasi-racist" one.

    1. Oh, FAIR is not racist per se -- mostly populatwd with rabid anti-immigrant zealots and cheats, but the founder of FAIR is an unabashed racist.

  8. """So who on Earth are the opponents of the DREAM Act?"""

    Its me, I am the one, I did it

  9. Dalmia still works here? Sad.

  10. What unintended consequences?

    That's why they're called unintended consequences.

  11. Regrettably, instead of embracing compassion, he's throwing in his lot with Trump's gang of cruel restrictionists.

    His ambivalence can be explained by the trashing he received during the primaries. The problems he faces: a) he's unprincipled, b) he's clumsy, despite being a well-spoken individual and c) the anti-immigrant white supremacists in his state could send him packing and even threaten his life. So, preferably, he puts the "Make America Grating Again" cap and pretends he's suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and lob a few grenades, like Patty Hearst.

  12. Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia is a columnist at The Week and a Bloomberg View contributor.

    Shikha, try this - when stating something as fact, give us a reference, so we can distinguish between opinion and 'fact'.

    1986 Amnesty trade off was to secure the southern border. Never happened! Proponents of the 86 amnesty said, the action would NOT encourage more illegal crossings. The opposite occurred,

    Beneficiaries of the DREAM Act must meet the following requirements:[3]

    A) Not have entered the United States on a non-immigrant visa
    B) Have proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16
    C) Have proof of residence in the United States for at least five consecutive years since their date of arrival
    D) If male, have registered with the Selective Service
    E) Be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of bill enactment
    F) Have graduated from an American high school, obtained a GED, or been admitted to an institution of higher education
    G) Be of good moral character[5]

    Here is some math 2017 - 35 years = 1982. 4 years before amnesty. Apparently the bill is scheduled to pass in 2022 or is more BS.

  13. They deserve compassion, not icy cruelty, especially since deporting just 750,000 would cost Uncle Sam $60 billion and lead to $280 billion in economic losses over the next decade.

    You're misinterpreting the Cato study, and the Cato study itself is already extremely poor.

    While the comparison is not perfect, as no such comparison can be, calculating costs under the assumption that DACA recipients are more like H-1B Visa holders than the general population of unauthorized immigrants will, we believe, yield a more accurate result

    The comparison is about as bogus as it can be. H-1B visa holders are a tiny group of people who are willing to pull up stakes and take the risk of working in a foreign nation; on top of that, they earn way above average incomes and often come from top educational institutions. DACA recipients have none of those properties.

    1. DACA participants earn an average of $34,000 annually and H-1B participants an average of $72,000 annually, a ratio of 47 percent. Applying this ratio to the economic and fiscal costs above yields an economic impact of $215 billion and a fiscal impact of $60 billion.

      This is also a bogus way of accounting for the value of these people to the economy. For starters, people who earn $34000 annually are a net cost to government, consuming more in government services than they generate in tax revenue. So, as a tax payer, their impact is negative on me. The fact that they make additional money they can use to buy Chinese-made iPhones doesn't help me.

      Kids who were brought here by their parents illegally do pose a significant moral dilemma. But having a political discussion over this shouldn't start with such economic distortions. The fact that DACA participants make so little compared to H-1B immigrants already tells you that DACA participants are an economically problematic population. If we are going to give them legal status, it's going to be costly.

      And, of course, another question is: is this a one time thing? Or is this just going to encourage more illegal immigration, like it did last time the US did something like this?

  14. I have a very simple suggestion for solving the DREAMER problem: anybody who wants to can sponsor a DREAMER and put up $500k in bonds should the DREAMER become a public charge over the next 20 years. We can make that quite flexible and allow you to put up your home or your 401k as security. We also let you form risk pools if you like.

    That way, everybody who thinks that a DREAMER is a net economic benefit to US society can put their money where their mouth is and the rest of us aren't forced to pay for it.

    I suspect that when their own money is at stake, few progressives and "open border libertarians" will actually do that.

  15. Rubio didn't sell out the Dreamers, their corrupt parents did when they uprooted them from their native lands and trafficked them into the United States. An unauthorized alien is a deportable alien no matter what their age, gender, race, religion or GPA.

  16. Trump always seems to follow the cruelest path, doesn't he? What a loathsome individual to put in the White House. And those who follow his lead, likewise.

  17. Deport them!

    If people are in America and were not born here or have legal status like a work or visiting visa, make them leave.

    Its not fair to our rule of law and the people that have followed our rules to become citizens for people to get preferred citizenship status because their parents broke the law and brought them to the USA illegally.

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  19. To that end, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have dusted off the DREAM Act, which would hand green cards to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children so long as they (i) graduate from high school or serve in the military;

    "Young illegals who served in the military" is generally bogus:

    Few Undocumented Immigrants Qualify for Military Exception Under New Rules

    When President Barack Obama spoke in the Rose Garden announcing a new immigration policy last month, he referred to young undocumented immigrants who "are already making contributions," such as "serving in our military, protecting us and our freedom."

    But few, if any, immigrants fall into this group.

    In order to enlist, a person needs to be a citizen of the United States or a green card holder, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense. The military rigorously checks immigration and naturalization documents, she added, and if it discovers "that an enlistee has presented false documents, he/she is discharged for fraudulent enlistment."

  20. You cannot have open borders and a welfare state at the same time:

    Report: More than half of immigrants on welfare

    About 51% of immigrant-led households receive at least one kind of welfare benefit, including Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance, compared to 30% for native-led households? Those numbers increase for households with children, with 76% of immigrant-led households receiving welfare, compared to 52% for the native-born.

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