Rubio’s ‘conservative-Republican’ DREAM Act may not fly with immigration restrictionists

By | 04.04.12 | 11:47 am

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (Pic by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr)

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stirred up the immigration debate last week when he announced a proposal to offer a “conservative-Republican alternative” to the DREAM Act, but it might not be enough for “attrition through enforcement” supporters, including Mitt Romney and his immigration advisor Kris Kobach.

According to Salon, in the race to get “Romney’s ear on immigration,” Rubio “starts out far behind” Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and “the most effective immigration restrictionist in American politics today.” Kobach authored Arizona and Alabama’s immigration enforcement laws.

“Kobach endorsed Romney in January and signed on to the campaign as an advisor. He is the foremost exponent of Romney’s avowed policy of ‘self-deportation’ for illegal immigrants,” Salon adds.

Romney first mentioned “self-deportation,” another name for “attrition through enforcement,” in Florida just days before the state’s GOP presidential primary.

Numbers USA, an organization that promotes and organizes around “attrition through enforcement,” writes that “the goal is to make it extremely difficult for unauthorized persons to live and work in the United States. There is no need for taxpayers to watch the government spend billions of their dollars to round up and deport illegal aliens; they will buy their own bus or plane tickets back home if they can no longer earn a living here.”

Kobach said in February during the Conservative Political Action Conference that attrition is a rational enforcement of the law, neither mass deportation nor amnesty. He said Arizona was the first state that required E-Verify, and that the move has led tens of thousands of undocumented workers to self-deport. He added that in Alabama “in the first month after the [immigration] law was enforced, unemployment dropped 0.5 percent in one month.”

Salon writes that “in an email, Kobach said he had not seen any details of Rubio’s Republican DREAM Act, ‘so I really can’t comment.’ Kobach also said he has not had any discussions about the proposal with the Romney campaign.”

What Kobach has done is file an amicus brief (.pdf) on behalf of the Secure States Initiative with the Supreme Court, explaining how “the three challenged provisions of [Arizona's] SB1070 are in full harmony with the federal immigration laws enacted by Congress.”

S.B. 1070, which will go before the Supreme Court on April 25 has served as a model for other states and brought to the forefront questions about how states can enforce existing federal immigration laws. Soon after its passage in April 2010 the Obama administration challenged the constitutionality of the measure. In July 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District upheld an injunction that blocked several provisions contained in the law, which prompted Arizona authorities to petition the Supreme Court.

According to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, where Kobach serves as an expert on constitutional law, the Secure States Initiative brief states “that the fundamental flaw in the Ninth Circuit decision is that it did not identify a single federal statute that unmistakably expresses federal intent to preempt state laws like SB 1070.”

Salon adds that “for immigration restrictionists, Rubio’s proposal amounts to another variation on ‘amnesty,’ says Ira Mehlman, spokesman for Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“Republicans are looking back nostalgically to the time when they got 40 percent of the Latino vote. It’s not likely to happen,” Mehlman told Salon.

Follow Marcos Restrepo on Twitter


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