Andrea Nill at Think Progress has a pretty good post up about Republican Florida senatorial candidate Marco Rubio and his views on Ronald Reagan’s immigration policy, which back in 1986 granted amnesty for over 2.7 million people and provided a pathway to citizenship for agricultural seasonal workers. The Immigration Reform and Control Act, also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, was a bipartisan effort that made citizens out of many shadow contributors to our society. And upon Reagan’s passing, then President of NCLR Raul Yzaguirre even stated, “Hispanics also appreciated that President Reagan’s vision of America as a beacon of hope and opportunity for all included immigrants, millions of whom he helped to become Americans. Not only did he sign the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) – which included two highly- controversial legalization programs – into law in 1986, his administration worked diligently to implement these programs.”
Well, according to Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American son of immigrants, this wasn’t a good idea. Rubio thinks we should “seal the border and the visa problem” and favors solving the immigration issue “by attrition.”
For those of you needing a reminder, Cubans get their own special “amnesty” of sorts, where once they make it to shore, they qualify for an expedited “legal permanent resident” status. The Cuban-Americans can thank President Johnson and the Democratic Congress, who in November of 1966, extended this welcome mat to their gente with the Cuban Adjustment Act. Immigrants from Cuba certainly have a preferential arrangement compared to their counterparts from other countries.
I find it ironic that Marco Rubio, clearly a beneficiary within the last generation of an “amnesty” program, wants to kick the ladder out from other immigrants. If you go to his campaign website, he even mentions his parents and the jobs that they worked (bartending and hotel housekeeping like many other immigrants). It is as if he’s saying, “I got mine; now I’m going to make sure that you don’t get yours.” If this is the GOP’s new Latino outreach strategy, finding candidates who are critical of Reagan’s popular immigration policy, I don’t think that they are going to make gains with other groups that don’t have the privilege of the “Cuban amnesty.”