Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been among the most active legislators in the immigration reform debate, helping to shepherd the Senate’s sweeping immigration overhaul measure to passage over the summer. But recently he has made an about-face, and is now backing away from the comprehensive reform strategy he helped craft.
A change in tactics
Rubio helped craft a compromise between Senate Republicans and Democrats that would have initiated an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws if it had been approved in the House as well. But that chamber has stalled the bill, instead arguing that immigration should be addressed one issue at a time.
When Rubio was part of the Senate compromise, he saw a steep drop in support from members of the so-called Tea Party – a loose coalition of very conservative voters. Now that Republicans in the House have effectively killed the Senate bill, Rubio has changed his earlier stance, recently saying that he agreed with the approach of his colleagues in the House.
That 90-degree turn has led many people to question his motives, while at the same time his former conservative backers seem to be distancing themselves from him because of his earlier support for a comprehensive approach.
Controversial issue keeps Rubio on the ropes
Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, appears to be trying to position himself for a run for national office in 2016, according to the National Journal. In order to do so, he is trying to appease both the far right and more centrist factions of the Republican Party.
However, that approach appears to be backfiring to some degree. More extreme conservatives refuse to forgive him for supporting a bill that included amnesty and a path to citizenship for people who are in the country illegally, and moderates are souring on him because of his change in positions on immigration reform.