COMMENTARY | Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., defended remarks Thursday made by Mitt Romney earlier this year with regard to immigration. He said Romney's words did not amount to policy but were more of an "observation."
"I've never understood self-deportation in what the governor has presented as a policy. It's not a policy," Rubio said, according to Yahoo News' The Ticket. "I think it's an observation of what people will do in a country that's enforcing its immigration laws."
Apparently Rubio was using the old verbal sleight of hand where suggestion equates accuracy, hoping nobody would check on statistics that indicate President Barack Obama's administration is enforcing immigration laws. According to the Washington Post, by January, Immigration Customs Enforcement under Obama had deported 1.2 million illegal aliens, more than any president in six decades. In that time, there have been 11 presidents, six of whom have had more than one term in office.
And Rubio is incorrect in saying it does not amount to policy if an administration will allow self-deportation as the answer to illegal immigration. What else would it be? Some already self-deport and even with Obama's toughness on immigration and a virtual standstill on Mexican illegal immigration, according to the Pew Research Center, it is estimated more than 12 million illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. So much for hoping for self-deportation because of "a country that's enforcing its immigration laws" better than it has in 60 years.
Rubio's comments came after President Obama announced June 15 that he would loosen deportation requirements so a considerable number of illegal immigrants could remain in the U.S. as long as they met certain requirements. Although criticized as pandering to the increasingly important Latino vote, Obama's decision also brought back the topic of immigration, a noted weak spot in Romney's domestic policy.
In January at a Republican primary debate in Tampa, Fla., Romney said the answer to the immigration problem was "self-deportation," where "people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here."
Rubio said both parties were making the immigration argument too simple. He said Obama's plan was nearly identical to his and would have the same effect. But where his was criticized, Obama's has been hailed. Maybe that is because Rubio's plans would still have to go through a gridlocked Congress. Obama's plans offer at least a partial solution in the immediate sense while helping ensure those who have been in the U.S. for years, especially the young and the productive, are not deported with the newly arrived and criminals.
Besides, nearly the same effect does not equate to nearly the same means. Who was being too simplistic in this argument?
Romney's policy is extremely safe, noncommittal, do-nothing, even laughable. One should not attempt to misdirect or oversimplify when defending a simplistic policy stance, especially an indefensible one.