By Jamelle Bouie

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin has kind words for Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s immigration proposal, which would create a path toward legal residence – but not citizenship – for undocumented immigrants:

“Why is Rubio having great success so far? I think there are a variety of explanations, only some unique to Rubio. For starters, conservatives are really tired of losing elections; the demographics are compelling and more right-leaning pols and activists are therefore trying to find a solution. Second, Rubio came up with a detailed plan that gives conservatives some comfort in knowing that border issues will come first and there may be a substantial delay between some form of provisional legalization and green-card status or possibly citizenship. This diminishes the concern about encouraging more immigration. Third, this is a good time to tackle the problem since net immigration thanks to a falling birthrate in Mexico and economic recession from Mexico is at zero.”

For as much as I would like to see a comprehensive and humane fix to our broken immigration system, I think Republicans are vastly overestimating the extent to which this would improve their standing with Latino voters. Latino Decisions held an online seminar on the political calculus of immigration reform. Two things stand out in their analysis. First, if Latinos had voted for Mitt Romney in the proportion they did for George W. Bush, he would be president. At the same time, however, only 31 percent of Latinos say they would be more likely to support Republicans if the GOP took a role in immigration reform—and a lead one at that. For the large majority of Latino voters, there’s not much the GOP can do to earn their support.

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