Tomorrow night, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union. After he’s finished, Senator Marco Rubio will deliver the Republican response in both English and Spanish. We are, of course, interested in what both have to say about the prospects for real immigration reform this year.
Two weeks ago, the President laid out his positions on what reform will look like. And he’s spoken on the subject several times since then. According to The New York Times, we’ll get a mention again tomorrow night:
On immigration, the president will say he intends to make good on his promise to revamp the nation’s immigration system and eventually provide a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants in the country illegally.
We’d like to hear more about the time frame from the President. That’s important.
But we need to hear much more from Senator Rubio. We keep getting asked about the “Rubio plan,” but to be honest, we still don’t really know what it is. Yes, we’ve seen some broad principles from the Senate “Gang of Eight,” of which Rubio is a member. But we don’t know his exact positions on key elements of reform. Tomorrow night, when Rubio has what could be the biggest audience of his career, we think he should answer some key questions. Like these, for starters:
- Does Senator Rubio support legislation that will provide a straight-forward pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., meaning a path that exists in real life, not just on paper?
- What does he think is a reasonable timeframe for an undocumented immigrant to earn citizenship? Thirty years? Twenty years? Ten?
- What are the enforcement “triggers” that have to happen before an immigrant can apply for a green card?
- Who decides when these “triggers” are met and immigrants can take the next step toward citizenship?
- What about reforming the legal immigration system – does he support adding visas and/or changing the family preference system so that people can reunite more quickly with their loved ones in the United States? How exactly would he do this and how long would it take?
Rubio needs to answer these questions soon – and tomorrow night affords him a great opportunity. This legislative process is already underway. As we noted earlier today, “The real action begins on Wednesday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), will hold its first immigration hearing of the 113th Congress.”
It’s game on. Rubio is clearly a player. We just need to know what cards he’s playing. (We bet his mother will want to know, too.)