The Rubio-Labrador Gang

With Congress returning from its Easter Recess, there will be vast renewed interest in beltway circles in the progress of the bipartisan “gangs” in both Houses who have been working on more-or-less comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

What caught my eye in this morning’s gab gleanings is this tidbit from among five scenarios for immigration legislation identified by Politico‘s Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman:

4. The Rubio-Labrador stamp of approval

The fate of immigration reform hinges, in no small way, on the two conservative Washington neophytes.

A big reason Republicans have grown comfortable with immigration reform is because the pair — both Hispanic — have given the process their blessing.

But they’re both facing pressures.

Top GOP aides say it’s tough to read Labrador. And it’s become accepted wisdom that if Rubio doesn’t sign on in the Senate, the chances of passing a bill could evaporate. He’s attempted to keep some public distance from the Gang of Eight, suggesting his approval of a final deal won’t come easily.

Next time you hear someone talk about the declining influence of the Tea Party Movement, consider that immigration legislation may require a “stamp of approval” not only from Rubio but from Raul Labrador, a Puerto Rican Mormon from Idaho who is a true wild man, but is nonetheless deemed a “centrist” on immigration policy because he thinks deporting 11 million undocumented workers is impractical.

But if the Republican Party more or less decides to give two of its rare Latino stars the lead on immigration policy, then this could indeed become the only gang that matters–unless Ted Cruz decides to get in on the act.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.