Senator Marco Rubio, the GOP’s Great Light Brown Hope, went on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday and spent about fifteen minutes saying, well, basically nothing. Although he did mention he wouldn’t mind turning his fellow Latinos into a permanent underclass of slaves. There was that.
Host Bob Schieffer introduced Rubio as a “key member” of the so-called Gang of Eight who are working on immigration reform. Rubio immediately launched into his well-prepared spiel about how undocumented immigrants need to step forward to identify themselves, pass a rigorous background check, and pay a fine in order to get a worker permit.
None of this sounds particularly onerous until Rubio continued. From CBS:
“…it will allow them to stay in the US, work, travel and pay taxes. They will not qualify for any federal benefits of any kind, including Obamacare and they will have to be in that system for over ten years before they can apply to the existing legal immigration system for a green card…”
That sounds an awful lot like legalized slavery. You pay taxes for things that you are not legally allowed to benefit from? Like unemployment insurance, Social Security and Medicare? What about food stamps and Medicaid? Curiously, one of the key complaints from the Tea Party is that the government is “stealing” people’s money via taxes. They always gloss over the part where they are personally benefitting from those taxes, but imagine if they were legally forbidden from getting certain government services in return? They would go on a rampage. It seems unlikely that Rubio’s attempts to use millions of immigrants to fund other people’s retirements and healthcare will bother the faux fiscal conservatives very much.
Another interesting aspect to Rubio’s “fix” is the built-in mechanism for failure. By linking the ability of undocumented immigrants to enter the existing immigration infrastructure to the implementation of universal E-verify, Entry-Exit tracking and “securing the border,” Rubio is ensuring that they will NEVER be able to gain legal status. Aside from the glitchy nature of E-Verify, the states that rely on migrant workers working for pennies will do everything in their power to stymie the implementation. Georgia stands as a stark example of what happens when you actually drive away the only workers willing to do the kind of back-breaking labor necessary to pick crops for the kind of poverty wages farmers are willing to offer. E-Verify would cripple several agriculturally dependent state economies.
This becomes a convenient excuse to keep sucking taxes out of “guest workers” while denying them the chance to ever profit from the labors of their work. Gee, we’re sorry we turned you into a permanent and codified underclass to finance our tax cuts. We hope to have the situation resolved sometime in the next century.
Some of Rubio’s final words on immigration reform, of course, were a sop to the racists in his party who are always in need of cover for their nativist rantings on “securing the border:”
“…what keeps us up at night is the worry that a terrorist can come across that border one day or the activities that are being undertaken there now by criminal gangs that are human traffickers.”
Yes, the terrorists are swarming across the border. Would this be the same border that we made such a huge effort not bothering to secure after 9/11? The same border that Obama doubled the number of agents working to secure? And the gangs are obviously a HUGE problem! Why, they took over a whole ranch in Texas and NO ONE DID ANYTHING! Because in the state with a cowboy for a governor, that sort of thing could totally happen. For reals. And don’t forget about all the headless bodies in the Arizona desert.
Now, this is isn’t to say that drug violence isn’t a problem or that a terrorist couldn’t sneak into the country from Mexico but let’s be honest: this is nothing more than hand waving and thin excuses for “securing the border.” What this really means, though, (and it’s the loudest of dog whistles and about as subtle as a Mack truck) is “NO MORE MEXICANS!” In this era of “Republican outreach,” in which calling Mexicans “wetbacks” is slightly more frowned upon than usual (but just slightly), having a Hispanic Republican pretend that what the right is really worried about is terrorists and gangs is kind of sad.
I wonder if someone’s already coined the phrase “Uncle Juan?”
Here’s the video: