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Marco Rubio's immigration expert draws fire from hardliners

Sen. Marco Rubio's decision to hire immigration lawyer Enrique Gonzalez, a longtime friend and practicing expert in the field, is drawing fire from the conservative Daily Caller (and its readers if you check the comments section):

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s top lawyer in the closed-door effort to draft a new immigration bill is a Democratic donor who earns his living by bringing foreign workers into the country on behalf of corporations and universities.

The lawyer, Enrique Gonzalez, is a partner at the nation’s largest immigration firm, whose future depends on the outcome of Gonzalez’s closed-door work.

Rubio hired Gonzalez in January, when he was a partner at the Coral Gables, Fla., office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy.

We asked for a comment, and here's what Rubio's office said: "Senator Rubio has known Enrique Gonzalez since for almost 16 years when they where elected together to the West Miami City Commission. He is a highly qualified immigration attorney who has proven invaluable in negotiating ways to modernize our legal immigration system."

In checking around with folks in the know, it's tough to see how hiring Gonzalez is a bad idea overall. He has worked in the immigration system for 20 years. So he understands its complexities, from E-Verify to entry-exit immigration pilot programs. The latter isisue means he has more experience than most with programs aimed at an estimated 40 percent of illegal/undocumented immigrants, who overstay their visas.

It's true that Gonzalez contributed to Democrats. And not just any Democrat. He gave to Joe Garcia, the bitter rival of Rubio's close friend and longtime pal David Rivera, who lost in November to Garcia and faces a federal investigation (background here). Rubio made a robo-call supporting Rivera in the last election. Garcia and Gonzalez are friends.

There also appears to be an error in the Daily Caller piece, at the end, where it says the Repubulican senator "abandoned his demand for a so-called  'trigger' that would freeze the awarding of visas and green cards until enforcement measures were actually implemented." Rubio's office said he still supports such a trigger (a sticking point).

All that aside, the Daily Caller piece has some interesting nuggets, provides a good window into the concerns of conservatives and also hints at a major issue in Washington: The revolving door of those who weave in and out of government and profit along the way.

That's not to say Gonzalez is guilty of it. He was hired because Rubio probably feels he wants the best and brightest people he knows working on one of the most-important political issues in Florida and the nation.

Here's the Daily Caller piece