The tea party patriots who helped propel Republican Marco Rubio into the U.S. Senate are taking a second look at his record in the Florida House in light of his support for the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill. What they’re finding isn’t necessarily what they’d been led to believe.
It seems that every chance he gets, the junior senator from Florida is on a news program, touting the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal, which prompted conservative pundit Ann Coulter to take a closer look at the legislation and ask, “If Rubio’s amnesty is so great, why is he lying?
This in turn led The Daily Caller to examine Rubio’s record when he was speaker of the Florida House and speak with his present and former colleagues.
“Rubio blocked any efforts to deal with the problems of illegal immigration on the local or state level,” one former South Florida politician told The Daily Caller.
“He said it was because we had bigger things to deal with on the state level. Maybe that’s true. But he didn’t even let bills to the floor when they sailed through committees,” the politician, who declined to speak on the record, added.
The Daily Caller’s Charles C. Johnson noted:
Numerous enforcement proposals – ranging from bills requiring employers to check the status of workers to others mandating increased cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies – were blocked by Rubio even though they cleared bipartisan committees.
The bills in Florida’s Legislature would have penalized farmers and government contractors caught hiring undocumented workers; placed stricter regulations on public benefits; and required local police to notify federal authorities after arresting illegal immigrants.
One of the proposals he blocked was a bi-partisan plan based on a New York statute that had saved that state $141 million in prison costs. The bill would have provided for the deportation of up to 5,000 illegal immigrants currently in prison upon their agreement to be deported after they have served half their sentence.
GOP lawmaker Adam Hasner of Boca Raton, who strongly supported the bill, was left wondering why. Even Democrats scratched their heads over Rubio’s reluctance to take up this, and numerous other pieces of immigration reform legislation.
“For some people this is a real winner, but for a lot of Republicans in this state, immigration is not a real winner,” said Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, according to the Caller. “I just don’t know if this is an issue the Speaker and some of his closest allies want to see debated on the floor of the House.”
It wasn’t just fellow-lawmakers who noticed — the media took note also.
“Top leaders in state government are not showing much support, either. Gov. Charlie Crist and House Speaker Marco Rubio, who have been at odds on many issues, have shown no signs of pushing tougher immigration laws,” The Ledger reported in Feb. 2008.
Although Rubio and Crist were lumped together on immigration, Rubio used that issue to distinguish himself from Crist in their run for the seat Rubio now holds.
“He would have voted for the McCain plan,” Rubio said. “I think that plan is wrong, and the reason I think it’s wrong is that if you grant amnesty … you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America,’ he said.
It may be time for Rubio to review that statement once again.
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