Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who had yet another strong performance at the third debate Wednesday, has been working hard to reassure conservatives about where he stands on President Obama’s executive amnesty. But how much can conservatives trust him? In an interview earlier this year, the Senator took his anti-executive amnesty message to the most strident pro-illegal immigrant journo-activist in the western hemisphere, Univision’s Jorge Ramos, to whom he said he would rescind Obama’s 2014 executive order, but hedged on the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order.
The Republican base has had reason to worry over Rubio’s track record on immigration, as he was one of the infamous “Gang of Eight” Senators who wrote an immigration reform bill in 2013 that eventually failed (and that Rubio himself ended up voting against). Rubio has since been making amends, bending over backwards to reassure conservatives that he’s now solidly on their side on the issue.
In the April 15 interview with Ramos, Rubio repeated his pledge that if he is elected president he will cancel Obama’s de facto executive amnesty from 2014, explaining that he believed the executive action was hindering any effective and meaningful immigration reform. But Rubio also stated that he would not immediately rescind the 2012 DACA, saying instead that “at some point it’s going to have to end.” Here’s a transcript of the exchange:
RAMOS: As you know, it has always been hard for Republicans to get the Hispanic vote. I wanted to talk with you about very concrete issues that affect Hispanics directly. I would like to start with the issue of deferred action and DACA. If you made it to the White House, would you keep the DACA program; that is, Deferred Action for the Dreamers, and would you keep President Barack Obama’s executive action, which would benefit more than four million undocumented people?
RUBIO: Well, DACA is going to have to end at some point. I wouldn’t undo it immediately. The reason is that there are already people who have that permission, who are working, who are studying, and I don’t think it would be fair to cancel it suddenly.
But I do think it is going to have to end. And, God willing, it’s going to end because immigration reform is going to pass. DAPA hasn’t yet taken effect, and I think it has impeded progress on immigration, on immigration reform. And since that program hasn’ttaken effect yet, I would cancel it. But DACA, I think it is important; it can’t be canceled suddenly because there are already people who are benefiting from it. But it is going to have to end. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States. And I don’t think that’s what they’re asking for, either. I think that everyone prefers immigration reform.
RAMOS: But then, to clarify, you would end DACA once immigration reform is approved. But what happens, Senator, if there is no immigration reform? Would you cancel DACA anyway?
RUBIO: At some point it’s going to have to end. That is, it cannot continue to be the permanent policy of the United States. I do think that if I wind up being president, itwill be possible to achieve new immigration reform. It won’t be possible for it to be comprehensive; that is, they are not going to be able to do everything in one massive bill. We already tried that a couple of years ago. We have seen that the political support isn’t there, and I think we’ve spent a lot of time on this process when we could have started moving forward through the three steps that I advocated. Unfortunately, a lot of time has been wasted on that. It has become an even more controversial issue; harder to move forward on that issue. But I still say that it’s important to modernize our system, and that means improving the way we enforce it in the future, to modernize the immigration system so that it’s not so costly and bureaucratic. And we have to deal with 12 million human beings who are already here. And nobody, nobody is advocating a plan to deport 12 million human beings. So that issue has to be dealt with, as well.
Despite Rubio’s pledge that he would rescind DAPA, some remain skeptical about him actually going through with it if that the opportunity comes. As HotAir’s Allahpundit points out, Rubio discussed exactly this scenario in an interview back in 2013 when he was defending the Gang of Eight (emphasis added):
“Here’s my big worry,” Rubio told me during an interview while the bill was making its way through the Senate. “I fear that if this thing fails, the president will basically say to anyone in the U.S. who has been here more than three years, who has not committed a serious crime…he’ll say, ‘We’ll do for you what we did for the DREAM kids.’ And the problem with that will be you will have 10 million people legalized in the United States by executive order, so that when there is a new president, if it is a conservative, a Republican, one of the first decisions they will have to make is whether to yank that status from those people and deport them. I cannot imagine a scenario where a future president is going to take away the status they’re going to get. I believe it’s what [Obama] will do. Maybe not all 10 million, but he’ll do it for six million.”
So will enough conservatives trust Rubio to stick to his current position on DAPA? And if he does manage to win, will he follow through?
This article has been updated to include the correct date of the interview and provide more context and the transcript of the Rubio-Ramos exchange.