Rubio’s Key Fudge: Before he moves on to his Gang of 8-style mass immigration amnesty, would Marco Rubio require that border enforcement measures a) merely pass Congress or b) be “actually completed and functioning”? Byron York, after interviewing Rubio in August, thought (b). But Rubio’s recent book suggests (a). From page 49:

“Once both of these reforms have been passed, then I believe the conditions will be in place …” [Emphasis added]

It’s a key fudge point. Universal E-Verify, for example, could easily pass Congress and still be held up in the courts or undone through hostile regulations — a common pattern for immigration enforcement measures. The same goes double for a border fence (which Rubio doesn’t even call for) and an “entry-exit tracking system,” which Rubio wants but which Congress has already, futilely, mandated more than once.  A President Rubio would be way more likely to get Democratic support for (a), precisely because so many Democrats would like to knock out enforcement after pocketing Rubio’s amnesty. …

So which is it? Someone should force Rubio to choose — to clearly say what he means. [Won’t he just lie? -ed Always good to have a baseline from which the lying starts.] ….

Update: On Face the Nation Sunday morning, Rubio seemed pretty clearly to be proposing only that Congress “pass” a bill “that puts in place E-Verify,” etc. before it passed his amnesty provisions. (“It has to happen in that order.”) So it is Reagan’s 1986 reform all over again — the legalization (“work permits”) will be near-instantaneous, the promised enforcement never actually happens. Republicans who favor immigration control should not be fooled.

P.S.: It’s possible Rubio changes his position to suit his audience — he lets York think he means that enforcement measures have to actually be fully implemented, he lets CBS’ Bob Schieffer (who’s trying to shame him for abandoning the Beltway consensus bill) think he just wants to rearrange the legislative calendar. We’ll see if he tries to go all York again when facing a GOP base crowd. It’s hard to believe he thinks he can get away with that kind of game-playing on this issue, though.