Commentary Magazine


RE: RE: Grandstanding on Immigration

Well, one politician who’s not playing to the crowd on the Arizona immigration law is Marco Rubio. At the risk of incurring the ire of his base, he’s come out with a conservative critique of the bill:

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.

In other words, the federal government should do its job in protecting the border and conservatives, of all people, should be wary of giving new and ill-defined policing power to the government. Will Rubio take a hit with his base on this? Perhaps. But if they are listening closely, they will see that he’s making a reasoned case for immigration reform that begins with border control. He’s also, at least so far, the anomaly in this debate: someone who takes seriously the constitutional and legal issues and is unwilling to score cheap political points for the sake of revving up his supporters. I suspect he’ll be a lonely voice on this one.