Despite Rubio’s wooing, radio hosts protest immigration reform bill

Conservative radio talk show hosts have signed a letter opposing the sweeping immigration reform bill in the Senate, bucking tea party favorite Sen. Marco Rubio's attempts to win their support for the bill, which would combine enhanced border security with a legalization program for the nation's unauthorized immigrants. Rubio, a member of the "gang of eight" senators who drafted the bill, has become the most prominent conservative spokesman for its passage.

Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, who had Rubio on her show twice in the past few months to let him make his pitch for the bill, signed onto the open letter that says the "unsalvageable" measure "would do more harm than good." The statement, signed by more than 100 conservative groups and leaders, argues that the bill is laden with earmarks and "rewards" lawbreakers by allowing most of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants to legalize if they pass a background check and pay fines.

Some influential conservatives have argued that the party needs to embrace reform in order to combat its declining support among Hispanic voters and to fix a broken system, even though the bill is also high on President Barack Obama's agenda.

In the past, most in the right-wing talk show world have argued that any legalization of unauthorized immigrants was unacceptable "amnesty," forming a unified front that helped kill previous attempts at reform under George W. Bush. But Rubio had appeared to make inroads with Ingraham and syndicated hosts Lars Larson and Mark Levin, who also signed the letter, this spring when he appeared on their shows.

Rubio made the case to all three hosts that the current immigration system provides "de facto amnesty" to unauthorized immigrants, while his bill would hold them accountable for overstaying visas or entering the country illegally. Levin, for one, seemed receptive to the argument, saying after his interview with the senator in April that "It's a problem, we've got to address this problem, and he's right."

He apparently changed his mind.

Ingraham blasted her disenchantment with Rubio on her show last week, when she said Republicans had "put all our hopes in a person, instead of in principles," when they trusted Rubio to negotiate on their behalf for immigration reform.

Rush Limbaugh was notably absent from the list of signatories, though his brother, conservative commentator David Limbaugh, signed. Rush Limbaugh said when Rubio appeared on his show in April that he endorsed the senator as a "genuine conservative," but that he couldn't support the immigration bill.

Sean Hannity, another big name host, has said he supports immigration reform.

The full letter and signatories below:

We write to express our serious concerns regarding the Gang of Eight's immigration bill, S. 744. We oppose this bill and urge you to vote against it when it comes to the Senate floor. No matter how well intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable. Many of us support various parts of the legislation, but the overall package is so unsatisfactory that the Senate would do better to start over from scratch.

We have a variety of concerns; some of us share only one, others share all. Among these concerns are that the bill:

Reforming our immigration system is an important priority. But S.744 is such a defective measure that it would do more harm than good. We urge you to vote against it and against any cloture vote to bring up the bill. Only then can a constructive, measured debate take place on how to improve America's immigration policy.

Signed (affiliations are included for identification purposes only):

List of Gang of 8 Coalition Opposition Letter Signers

National Conservative Leaders

Barbara Anderson, Citizens for Limited Taxation

Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families

Rev. C.L. Bryant, One Nation Back to God

Howie Carr, New England Talk Radio Host

Conn Carroll, Senior Editorial Writer, Washington Examiner

Ann Corcoran, Refugee Resettlement Watch

Monica Crowley, Ph.D., Nationally Syndicated Radio Host

Glynn Custred, Professor Emeritus CSU East Bay

Jim Eagan, Sumner United for Responsible Government (Tennessee)

Elaine Donnelly, Founder and President, Center for Military Readiness

John Eastman, former Dean Chapman University Law School

Ken Eldred, CEO, Living Stones Foundation

Erick Erickson, Editor of RedState

Maria Espinoza, Houston Eagle Forum, The Remembrance Project

T. Willard Fair, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami, Inc.

John Fonte, Hudson Institute

David Frum, Frum Forum

Brigitte Gabriel, President and Founder, Act for America

Frank Gaffney, President Center for Security Policy

Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Donna Hearne, Constitutional Coalition, St. Louis, Missouri

John Hinderaker,

David Horowitz, David Horowitz Freedom Center

Laura Ingraham, Nationally Syndicated Radio Host

Micky Kaus, Columnist, Daily Caller, author The End of Equality

Roger Kimball, Encounter Books and The New Criterion

Cliff Kincaid, President, America’s Survival

Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies

Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center

Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Christians for a Sustainable Economy

Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center

Lars Larson, Radio Host Compass Media Networks

Mark Levin, Author and Radio Host

David Limbaugh, Lawyer and Author

Herb London, President of the London Center for Policy Research

Dr. Gina Loudon, Nationally Syndicated Radio Talk Show host

Michelle Malkin, author of Invasion and syndicated columnist

Ed Martin, Chairman Missouri Republican Party

Jenny Beth Martin, Co-Founder and National Coordinator, Tea Party Patriots

Ken Masugi, Senior Fellow, The Claremont Institute

Andy McCarthy, executive director, Philadelphia Freedom Center

Eric Metaxas, Author and Speaker

Paul Mirengoff,

Frank L. Morris, Sr., Ph. D.

Mike Needham, CEO Heritage Action

Peter K. Núñez, Former U. S Attorney Southern District of California, Former Assistant Secretary for Enforcement Department of the Treasury

Rev. Rick Scarborough; President of Vision America Action

John O’Sullivan, Editor-at-Large, National Review

Daniel Pipes, President, Middle East Forum

Judson Phillips, Founder Tea Party Nation

Andy Ramirez, Law Enforcement Advocate and Journalist

Sandy Rios, Vice-President Family PAC Federal and Morning Host for AFR Talk

Phyllis Schlafly, President and Founder Eagle Forum

Smart Girl Politics Action

Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science and of Law, Vanderbilt University

Tea Party Nation

Virginia Thomas, Liberty Consulting

Brad Thor, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Richard Viguerie

Former Congressman Allen West

Tom West, Professor Hillsdale College

Tim Wildmon, President of the American Family Association and American Family Radio

Grassroots Activists throughout the Country

Alabama Federation of Republican Women

American Grizzlies United (Wisconsin)

Angela Bean, Coordinator South Atlanta Tea Party Patriots (Georgia)

Blanchard Tea Party (Idaho)

Jack and Joan Billman, Greencastle Defenders of Liberty, Greencastle, Indiana

Martha Brewer, Lamar County Tea Party Patriots (Alabama)

Canton T.E.A. Party (Georgia)

Sam Clovis, President Serious Civics for America, Inc. (Iowa)

Common Sense Campaign of South Alabama

Carroll County Tea Party Association (Georgia)

Darin Danielski, Lake County Area Defenders of Liberty, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Dyersville Tea Party (Iowa)

Kay Edmonds, Precinct Delegate, Clinton, MI, l9.12 Forum Steering Committee Member, Lenawee GOP Executive Committee Member, Veteran (Post Korea)

Empower Indiana (Indiana)

Hamilton County Patriots (Indiana)

Mark Herr, The Midsouth Tea Party (Tennessee)

Dustin Inmman Society, Georgia

Bill & Prudence Fields, Eagle Forum Virginia

Friends of Idaho

Georgia Conservatives in Action

Kay Godwin and Pat Tippett, Co-Chairs, Georgia Conservatives in Action

Becky Gerritson, President Wetumpka TEA Party, Wetumpka, Alabama

Donna Goeddaeus, Northwoods Patriots Tea Party, Conover, Wisconsin

Green Bay (Brown County) Wisconsin TEA Party

Greencastle Defenders of Liberty (Indiana)

Ron Hei, Tea Party Patriots of Covington County

Wally Hauck, Ph.D., President of Optimum Leadership, Member of Milford, CT Republican Town Committee

Marcia Hora, Iowa Grassroots Coalition

Illinois Tea Party

Danny B. Joyner, Commander, Alabama Patriots, Brewton, Alabama

Dave Kramer, Dyersville Tea Party (Iowa)

Las Vegas Valley Tea Party (Nevada)

Janna Loar, State Leader Ohio Counts

Michigan Eagle Forum

Montgomery Tea Party (Alabama)

Lisa Nancollas, Mifflin County Tea Party Patriots and Pennsylvania State Coordinator Tea Party Patriots

Sara Jo Odom, Eagle Forum Oklahoma

Patriots of Liberty TEA Party, Auburn, Alabama

Bobbie Patray, President Eagle Forum Tennessee

Carol Payne, Eagle Forum Lubbock, Texas

Pennsylvania Coalition for Responsible Government

John Putnam, Chairman, Jasper County Republican Central Committee (Missouri)

Merre Putnam, State Committewoman, 32nd Senatorial District

Steve Ramey and David Hancock, Gwinnett Tea Party (Atlanta)

Russell Ramland Park Cities/Preston Hollow Leadership Forum, Dallas, Texas

Jennifer Schubert-Akin, Activist Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Janet Smith, Local Coordinator, Greenfield Area Tea Party, Greenfield Indiana

Standpoint Tea Party Patriots (Idaho)

Rainy Day Patriots (Alabama)

Jeff Schwilk, San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition

Kim Simac and Shirley Kufeldt, Northwood Patriots, Eagle River, Wisconsin

Todd Isaac “Ike” Skelton Lebanon Tea Party (Missouri)

Janet Smith, Greenfield Area Tea Party (Indiana)

Loretta and Ricky Short, Wetumpka TEA Party (Alabama)

Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama

South West Pennsylvania Eagle Forum

Pam Stout, Idaho State Coordinator, Tea Party Patriots

Barbara Susco, Florida Eagle Forum

Taxed Enough Already Party, Barbour County, Alabama

Taxed Enough Already Party, Quitman County, Georgia

Tea Party North (Indiana)

Vanderburgh County Tea Party Patriots (Indiana)

Dawn Wildman SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition, Inc.

Don and Skeet Workman, Eagle Forum Lubbock, Texas

Sally Zelikovsky, Founder of Bay Area Patriots and Coordinator of San Francisco Tea Party

Dennis Zellaha, Tea Party Patriots and Iowa Grassroots Coalition (Iowa)