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In the next few days you will have to make one of the most important decisions of your political career. You will have to decide whether or not to endorse the amnesty bill produced by the Senate “Gang of Eight,” or walk away from it as a bad bargain and a betrayal of your principles.
I can offer you three good reasons for walking away from the deal, and then I want to make you an offer of a better deal – a deal that is good for the Republican Party, good for the country and, therefore, good for Marco Rubio.
The Schumer-Menendez “Gang of Eight” amnesty plan is none of those things. It is bad public policy, a bad bargain for the Republican Party and a very bad gamble for Marco Rubio.
The Schumer-Menendez plan is bad for the country because it is a foolish repeat of the mistakes of the dishonest 1986 amnesty deal. Its most glaring weakness is the one a certain senator from Florida warned against repeatedly over the past year: It does not require genuine border security as a precondition for the legalization of 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants.
Make no mistake: It is legalization that is the main prize, not a green card. Everyone knows that after legal status is granted it will never be revoked – so the only political incentive for achieving true border security has been removed.
The Republican Party must not be a partner in another “immigration reform” fraud, and fraud is the right word. As a congressman, Charles Schumer played a direct, personal role in writing the 1986 amnesty-without-enforcement fraud. The 2013 Schumer-Menendez amnesty fraud is a tar pit from which Republican sponsors will never escape.
Honesty, integrity and truth-in-advertising still count for something, and no leader who perpetrates another bait-and-switch amnesty fraud will ever be elected president on the Republican ticket.
I need go no further than quoting you on the pivotal importance of border security as a prerequisite for any new amnesty. In January, you told Sean Hannity that any bill that does not put border security first will be unacceptable to you. In February, you called a White House proposal that lacked concrete border security provisions “dead on arrival.” Since November, you have repeatedly stated that any plan you endorse must give clear priority not to a mere promise of border security but to its demonstrated reality.
Surely, you can see the suicidal folly in abandoning not only your prior statements and promises but your good judgment as well.
The Schumer-Menendez plan is a bad bargain for the Republican Party because it cannot fulfill the extravagant expectations of its godfathers in the Republican establishment. It will not produce some miraculous surge in support among Hispanic voters. Such hopes are based on wishful thinking, not a realistic analysis of political history.
There is a better path for immigration reform and a better choice for Marco Rubio. That is the path of political courage, not the path of political capitulation. If Sen. Marco Rubio offers a different plan, a plan based on realism, integrity and the rule of law, he can be a hero.
That different plan would have three main pillars, with other elements such as a new guest worker proposal left open to negotiation. I myself proposed a new guest worker plan in 2004 based on a labor market test for new work visas. But there are three policies that must form the basis for any honest and sensible immigration reform.
Those three principles are, first, a convincing demonstration of true border security, not a promise of security down the road. That must be non-negotiable – not only because Americans expect nothing less, but because our national security and our sovereignty demand it.
Second, the offer of legal status and work permits to non-criminal illegal immigrants must not include an easy or guaranteed path to citizenship. Persons with legal status and work permits are free to travel to and from their home countries, so if interested in obtaining citizenship, they can apply for a green card from their home countries and wait in line like other applicants.
Third, the federal E-Verify program must be mandated for all employers, perhaps phased in over three years.
There is no denying that the Republican Party faces a challenge in attracting a larger share of Hispanic votes. To do so, Republicans need a multi-faceted, long-term strategy based on conservative Republican principles, not a quick-fix imitation of the transparent pandering that serves Democrats so well.
The cornerstone of the Republican appeal to former immigrants who are now voters should be this challenge: Join us in preserving America as the land of personal freedom and economic opportunity, not a place that more and more resembles the socialist and communist failures from which you fled.