Closing Barn Door After the Horse Has Gone

While we’re into parsing different Republican positions on immigration policy, we might as well deal with the one Marco Rubio’s taking these days, which he trotted out again at CPAC, as The Hill’s Cameron Joseph reports:

Rubio, a onetime Tea Party favorite whose support for a comprehensive immigration reform package hurt him with the GOP base, told the conservative crowd that he now understands U.S. borders must be secured before anything else can be done.
“It wasn’t very popular, I don’t know if you know that from some of the folks here,” Rubio said with a smile, earning laughs from the crowd, when asked about his earlier support for the bill by Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“You have 10 or 12 million people in this country, many of whom have lived here for longer than a decade, have not otherwise violated our law other than immigration laws, I get all that,” Rubio said. “But what I’ve learned is you can’t even have a conversation about that until people believe and know, not just believe but it’s proven to them that future illegal immigration will be controlled.”

Now for one thing that’s a classic way to defer until doomsday any further resumption of the “conversation” since the border will never be as secure as these birds wish it could be. But beyond that, Rubio seems to be assuming that the only reason people don’t want to allow undocumented folk to obtain a path to citizenship is that it will serve as a “magnet” to additional illegal entry across our supposedly porous borders. For a lot of conservatives these days, however, “securing the borders,” however desirable, is a matter of closing the barn door after the horse is long gone. They are offended by the 11 million not because they will attract more millions, but because they broke in line and will probably wind up on welfare and voting Democrat and cheering for Mexico at soccer games and in general making older white folks uncomfortable in our own damn country.

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.