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Rising conservative star and tea party favorite Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is “riding to the immigration rescue,” according to the Wall Street Journal editorial page. While a bipartisan group of senators is at work a comprehensive immigration reform proposal, Rubio is touting ideas of his own, which Journal editorial writer Matthew Kaminski says will seek to “triangulate, if you will—the liberal fringe that seeks broad amnesty for illegal immigrants and the hard right’s obsession with closing the door.”
Rubio, who is widely considered to be a strong contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, hasn’t introduced actual immigration reform legislation, or gone beyond the broad strokes outlined in his interview with the Journal. Nevertheless, in the days following the interview’s publication on Saturday, conservative pundits have showered Rubio with praise. The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin called Rubio’s proposal “bold,” and the Daily Caller‘s Matt Lewis writes that “although there is opportunity here, this is still an act of political courage.” Rubio also drew approval from 2012 GOP vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who wrote on Facebook that “I support the principles he’s outlined.”
Conservatives hailing Rubio may not realize how close to President Barack Obama he has moved on immigration, but opponents of reform, such as the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian, certainly noticed. “There’s nothing substantive in Rubio’s proposal that wouldn’t immediately be agreed to by President Obama,” Krikorian says. “This is the Rubio-Obama immigration plan.” In fairness, Krikorian notes, it’s also broadly similar to the George W. Bush immigration reform plan conservatives derailed in 2007.
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