Mark Krikorian, perhaps the most-eloquent and thoughtful immigration hardliner, breaks down the Senate immigration bill and Sen. Marco Rubio's involvement in it in the National Review:
With its Obamacare-style expanse and complexity, the bill contains much more than what is sketched above. Democrats packed it with as many loopholes and immigration-lawyer schemes as they thought they could get away with. Rubio’s staff, like most GOP Senate staff, are relative amateurs on immigration, while Schumer’s people are pros. This is how Ted Kennedy dominated immigration policy for so long. (The House GOP committee staff on immigration, on the other hand, are professionals with long experience.)
Opposition to the bill should be the obvious position for conservatives who care about immigration enforcement and don’t want to open the spigots even wider to low-skilled immigration. Whatever the discrepancies between Rubio’s assurances and the reality of the bill, though, he has now lashed himself to it. His convoluted justifications for various provisions suggest that he’s decided to do what he must to sell it. He’s made the laughable argument that the bill doesn’t give anything new to illegal immigrants because they can already return home and apply to come here legally. (This sounds a lot like what Mitt Romney called “self-deportation.”) He’s claimed that amnesty must precede enforcement because the enforcement measures would throw millions of illegals out of work, creating a humanitarian crisis. In fact, the three security triggers, if enacted on their own, would have only a gradual impact on the existing illegal population.
In the months leading up to the introduction of S.744, conservatives looked hopefully to Rubio as their representative on the Gang of Eight, someone who would make sure its plan didn’t turn out to be a call for de facto open borders. Early on, Rubio may well have seen that as his role. But he is now much less the conservative ambassador to the Gang of Eight than the Gang’s ambassador to conservatives.