Five questions for Marco Rubio

Letter date: 
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Letter publisher: 
Washington Examiner
Letter author: 
Byron York
Letter body: 

LAS VEGAS  It was widely remarked after the last Republican debate, on Nov. 10 in Milwaukee, that Marco Rubio has not been asked any question, in any of the first four debates, about the substance of his signature achievement, the Senate's Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The next debate is Tuesday here in Las Vegas. A lot as happened since Nov. 10 - Paris, San Bernardino, and a long list of controversial statements by Donald Trump. The moderator, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, has said he'll focus on national security.

But Rubio still has not faced those Gang of Eight questions. And if he's not asked in Las Vegas, there won't be another chance until after the new year, when the next GOP debate takes place in Iowa. So, just in case Blitzer or his colleagues are inclined to bring up immigration Tuesday night, here are five questions Rubio might be asked:

1) Recently Pew Research asked Americans whether immigration should be "kept at its present level, increased, or decreased." Very small minorities - just 7 percent of Republicans, 17 percent of independents, and 20 percent of Democrats support increasing immigration.. Yet the Congressional Budget Office found that your Gang of Eight bill would have raised immigration levels significantly, increasing the U.S. population in the next decade by an estimated 10 million people over the increase that would already occur if current law remains unchanged. Why did you do that?

2) When you wrote the Gang of Eight bill, you often said illegal immigrants who are criminals would not be allowed to stay in the United States. Yet your bill would have allowed illegal immigrants convicted of multiple misdemeanors crimes that could include vehicular manslaughter,, drunk driving, and domestic violence to stay in this country.. You even specified that illegal immigrants had to be convicted of crimes on three separate occasions before they would be disqualified from staying in the U.S. Is that the tough policy you said it was?

3) When you were promoting the Gang of Eight, you said the immigration system should be restructured to bring in more high-skilled workers and fewer low-skilled workers. Yet the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation found that under your bill "a greater number of immigrants with lower skills than with higher skills would be added to the workforce." Why did you structure the bill that way?

4) Your bill would have quickly legalized most illegal immigrants in the United States. Before the bill was released, you claimed that permanent legal status for them would come only after extensive border security measures were put in place. When the bill came out, though, it specified that permanent legal status would be conferred even if the security conditions had not been met. Why the change?

5) You have often spoken out against government over-regulation. When it comes to agriculture, your website has a page entitled "Getting Government Out of the Way of America's Farmers." Yet your immigration bill contained page after page of the government dictating the wages to the penny that agricultural workers would be paid for years to come. FFor example, your bill ordered that agricultural equipment operators be paid $11.30 an hour in 2014, $11.58 an hour in 2015, and $11.87 an hour in 2016. You specified lots of other wages, too. Why?

There are many other questions that might be asked about the Gang of Eight bill; there's a lot in its 1,197 pages. (Readers who want more should see here.) Someday, surely, a debate moderator will ask some of them.