Today, former Florida House Speaker and Republican senatorial candidate Marco Rubio became one of the first Republican candidates running for major office to denounce a new immigration law passed by Arizona that aims to “identify, prosecute and deport” undocumented immigrants.
In a statement released today, Rubio indicated that he has “concerns about this legislation” specifically relating to the probability that it could lead to racial profiling and “unreasonably single out people who are here legally.” However, Rubio was clear that he also doesn’t want the law to be used as “an excuse to try and jam through amnesty legislation”:
States certainly have the right to enact policies to protect their citizens, but Arizona’s policy shows the difficulty and limitations of states trying to act piecemeal to solve what is a serious federal problem. From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.
I hope Congress and the Obama Administration will use the Arizona legislation not as an excuse to try and jam through amnesty legislation…
Rubio’s condemnation of the bill is especially surprising given the fact that his campaign has relied so heavily on his hard-line position against undocumented immigration. While Rubio continues to insist that Congress should avoid comprehensive immigration reform, he recommends the federal government should instead “fix the things about our immigration system that can be fixed right now – securing the border, reforming the visa and entry process, and cracking down on employers who exploit illegal immigrants.” In other words, he’s recommending that the federal government reassert its authority over the states in the enforcement of immigration law because when a local government is given an inch, it takes a mile.
Rubio’s argument sounds a lot like the argument Obama made when he said that “our failure to act responsible at the federal level [on immigration] will only open the door to irresponsibility by others.” According to Obama, the solution involves “fixing our broken immigration laws” through comprehensive immigration reform that includes increased border security, a flexible visa program, and an earned path to legalization for undocumented immigrants — not amnesty.