"Our legal immigration system must continue to welcome those who seek to embrace America's blessings and abide by the legal and orderly system that is in place. The American people have every right to expect the federal government to secure our borders and prevent illegal immigration. It has become all too easy for some in Washington to ignore the desperation and urgency of those like the citizens of Arizona who are disproportionately wrestling with this problem as well as the violence, drug trafficking and lawlessness that spills over from across the border.
"States certainly have the right to enact policies to protect their citizens, but Arizona's policy shows the difficulty and limitations of states trying to act piecemeal to solve what is a serious federal problem. From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don't believe Arizona's policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.
"I hope Congress and the Obama Administration will use the Arizona legislation not as an excuse to try and jam through amnesty legislation, but to finally act on border states' requests for help with security and fix the things about our immigration system that can be fixed right now - securing the border, reforming the visa and entry process, and cracking down on employers who exploit illegal immigrants."
Contrary to the media and lefty site spin, there is nothing here even approaching a 'denunciation.' It is a very carefully worded statement that walks a very fine line.
Later, in an interview with Politico, Jeb Bush, the still-popular former Governor, had this to say about the new law:
"I think it creates unintended consequences. It's difficult for me to imagine how you're going to enforce this law. It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant as well.That strays a little farther off the reservation, doesn't it?
"I don't think this is the proper approach."
The body of the nation's immigration law was horribly broken by the Hart-Celler INS Act of 1965, and more than five decades of pathetic enforcement and outright neglect have made illegal immigration a major problem. While Rubio and Bush has publicly declared support for a policy of enforcement that strongly disincentivizes employers and employees from gaming the legal system, Bush has joined his brother in calling for comprehensive reform, including amnesty for illegals already living in the US.
It bears noting that both Bush and Rubio are products of Florida politics. Florida has a large Hispanic population. Rubio himself is a second generation Cuban, and Bush's wife is Colombian. While much of Florida's Cuban population leans Republican, there is a strong independent segment and a sizable Democrat bloc as well. Bluntly: You don't win elections in Florida without Hispanics.
By the same token, Republicans don't win elections in Florida without conservatives and right-leaning anglo independents. Cast in this light, both statements make sense. Rubio's conservatism is on display. Bush's Compassionate Conservativism II sounds just like that of his brother.
The only approach to the nation's illegal immigration policy is law-and-order first. It is not the arms-wide-open amnesty approach favored in 2007 by John McCain, Lindsey Graham, George W. Bush, and Ted Kennedy, resurrected and expected to see the Senate floor this summer.
I applaud Arizona's attempt to wrestle the enormous problem faced by state and local officials. The rules of naturalization are an enumerated power granted to Congress by the US Constitution, but what is a state to do when the federal government abdicates the responsibility to reasonably execute that power? If the Congress also failed to establish a standard of weights and measures, thus throwing commerce into chaos, should a state be able to attempt restoration of order by establishing its own systems?
Both Rubio and Bush are correct that a federal reform effort is needed, and needed badly. But Rubio is the only one of the two calling for the right approach and thankfully, he's the only one running for the US Senate.
Extra Point: Take a wild guess at who was one of Hart-Celler's biggest supporters, way back in 1965?