Marco Rubio’s latest fig leaf

Yesterday, in discussing a possible amendment by Marco Rubio to his immigration reform legislation, I asserted that the amendment he reportedly is contemplating wouldn’t address what he says is the underlying problem with the legislation’s efforts to secure the border — lack of reason to trust that, in practice, the government will act effectively to secure the border. Let’s examine this assertion.

Reportedly, Rubio is working on a proposal under which Congress would write a border security plan, rather than leaving the job to the distrusted Department of Homeland Security. On its face, this may look like a solution to the problem Rubio has acknowledged — lack of trust in the government.

Unfortunately, changing the author of the border security plan from DHS to Congress wouldn’t solve that underlying problem. As Mickey Kaus points out, it would still be up to the Obama administration to implement and enforce the plan.

Moreover, we know that past congressional attempts to dictate the specifics of border security have fallen flat. Mark Krikorian reminds us:

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 lays out in extraordinary detail where “at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing” are supposed to be built along the Mexican border. . . .In other words, Congress crafted the border plan at the outset, specifying where some 650 miles of fencing was to be placed, rather than leave the details up to the Bush administration. How’d that work out?

There are only about 40 miles of such double fencing, with no plans for any more.

Therefore, Krikorian is correct when he concludes:

Even if Jeff Sessions wrote the enforcement plans, this latest gambit by Rubio to bamboozle conservatives retains the bill’s fundamental, and flawed, structure — the amnesty comes first, complete and irrevocable, with enforcement promised for sometime in the future, and dependent on the executive branch’s continued commitment to enforcement.

But once the administration has legalized the illegal population, everyone knows that it will not honor its end of the bargain by vigorously and unapologetically preventing any new illegal immigration and deporting all those who didn’t qualify for the amnesty. No one who has been awake for the past four years can honestly believe otherwise.

So long as that structure remains, the bill cannot work as promised — and anyone who votes for it is saying, clearly and unequivocally, that America’s security and sovereignty just isn’t that important to him.

This explains why Chuck Schumer and “his Republicans” stand ready, in Schumer’s words, “to toughen the border. . .but without forsaking our principles.” The core principle is “amnesty first.”

As long as Rubio adheres to this principle — and I don’t see him abandoning it — his enforcement amendment will be just another fig-leaf.

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