Marco Rubio is an appealing candidate. Smooth, telegenic, and well rehearsed, he has risen rapidly first in Florida politics, then by winning a U.S. Senate seat over liberal Charlie Crist, and now he stands in third place in the running for the Republican presidential nomination. I admired Rubio when he was first elected to the Senate back in 2010, and so did a lot of other people. The New York Times suggested Rubio was “the first senator from the Tea Party.” The Washington Post called him a “Tea Party hero.” Rush Limbaugh called him “a Reagan Republican.” New Republic called him “the Republican Obama” (which New Republic would mean as a compliment), and Mike Huckabee said, “If there is a face for the future of the Republican Party, it is Marco Rubio. He is our Barack Obama but with substance.” I recall thinking and hoping at that time that I would one day have a chance to vote for Marco Rubio for president.
During his 2010 campaign Rubio had declared himself in favor of the enforcement of current immigration law and strongly opposed to amnesty or a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. But once he was in office, he did just the opposite. He became the leader of the infamous Gang of Eight, a group of four Democrats and four liberal Republicans who tried to ram through Congress what they called “comprehensive immigration reform.”
The Gang of Eight bill provided exactly the amnesty and pathway to citizenship that Rubio had claimed to oppose when he asked the citizens of Florida to vote for him. By using his reputation as a conservative and by twisting the meanings of words, Rubio was able to get the amnesty bill passed in the Senate, but stout opposition by Ted Cruz forced Rubio and the rest of the bill’s backers to reveal its true intent to such a degree that conservatives were able to defeat it in the House.
This is a well known story–so well known, in fact, that in the present campaign Rubio has gone to some lengths to try to argue that his bill wouldn’t really have done what it was obviously intended to do and even that the bill’s arch foe, Ted Cruz, had in fact supported it. This is a bit like a child caught in wrongdoing saying, “I didn’t do it, and besides, Ted did it too.”
At the same time, Rubio continues to maintain that he was always for securing the border first and “fixing” the immigration system afterward. However, in a 2013 interview with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, Rubio stated that amnesty would come first, before any tightening of border security, and that amnesty would not be conditional on such tightening. “The legalization is going to happen,” Rubio said in Spanish. “That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border.” This of course was the opposite of what Rubio has said in English, then and now.
In a 2015 interview, Rubio told Univision’s Jorge Ramos that he would not revoke Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty for juvenile illegal aliens. “I think it will have to end at some point,” Rubio said, “and I hope it will end because of some reform to the immigration laws.” That is, Rubio wants to leave Obama’s executive amnesty in place until Congress finally gives in and passes its own amnesty bill. This is what Obama has been demanding all along.
Now, by this time you may be thinking, “This was supposed to be a post about integrity. Why all the talk about illegal immigration?”
This is a post about integrity, and Marco Rubio’s record on immigration illustrates his integrity–or, sadly, his lack thereof.
Illegal immigration is a very important issue in this election. Integrity is a much more important issue in every election. Integrity is what would compel a statesman to keep his word to the voters and do what he said he would do, not just on illegal immigration but on every issue. Rubio’s betrayal of the voters by going back on his word on illegal immigration, his lies to try to cover this, and his dishonest attempts to blame others, including Ted Cruz, show that Marco Rubio is not a man of integrity. He will say whatever he thinks will get him elected and bring him power.
Maybe I could overlook Rubio’s true position on illegal immigration (or maybe not), but Rubio’s lack of integrity means I can’t trust him on any issue. I might look at the many issues on which he professes to agree with me and with other conservative voters, but how do I know he will actually keep any of those promises? I don’t. The man has no integrity.
And that’s why I won’t be voting for Marco Rubio.