Recent comments made by Senator Marco Rubio in which he said that he would eliminate protections against the deportation of minors brought into the U.S. by their parents (DACA) if he is elected president place him among the hard-liners regarding immigration. His posture ingratiates him with his Party’s base but alienates the Latino vote he would need in a general election in order to win the White House seat.
From the start, the appeal of Rubio’s presidential candidacy was based on the charisma of the young Cuban-American politician who arrived in the U.S. Senate under the Tea Party’s wing. His participation in drafting immigration reform elevated his image in the eyes of the Latino community. However, the resounding failure of the proposal in the House of Representatives – spearheaded by Congress members affiliated with the Tea Party – made Rubio fall out of grace with that conservative sector of the Republican Party, which opposes any kind of regularization.
Rubio may have demonstrated leadership when he backed the just cause of immigration reform, but his political ambition ended up being stronger than any of his principles. From then on, he began snubbing all he had supported. The road to citizenship became never-ending, and an improbable guarantee of border security became the new requirement to reconsider the reform.
The surprising rise of Donald Trump as leader of the GOP primary ‒ achieved by demonizing Mexican immigrants ‒ gave Rubio a chance to at least lend some clarity to ridiculous proposals such as the plan to deport 11 million people from the U.S. However, his reaction was tepid, like when he clarified to Trump that immigrants are not only Mexican instead of firmly correcting the epithets the mogul used against Latinos. Today, Rubio’s criticism of Trump is based on the fact that the millionaire supported DACA at some point. In other words, Rubio is not tough enough.
He wants to show that the he is “the real thing,” which is the reason he hardened his position against DACA and he could care less about being seen as a hypocrite for denying the immigrants of today the help his own parents received.
Maybe all this is what makes him the perfect Republican candidate. The truth is that, if anyone wants to lose the Hispanic vote on purpose, all they need to do is follow Rubio’s lead.