Senator Marco Rubio, the leading Republican behind the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform proposal, has often challenged those who criticize the bill to come up with ways to improve it. And not just his fellow lawmakers; Rubio has opened a new page on his Senate website asking for help from the public. “Visit our website and submit your ideas to ‘Help Us Improve the Bill,’” says an announcement from Rubio’s office Friday. “Since the immigration legislation was introduced, Rubio has received over 1,100 suggestions for how to improve the bill. Rubio encourages the public to continue reviewing the bill and sharing their ideas on ways to make the bill better when the time comes to amend the legislation.”
A visit to the “Help Us Improve the Bill” page shows the senator has posted just 147 out of the 1,100 suggestions he has so far received. Rubio’s staff is reviewing each one — a wise move, given the emotions that the immigration issue can involve and the tendency of some people to say nasty things on the Internet. But even after screening for foul language and general content, the suggestions Rubio has so far received are remarkably negative. Actually, they are overwhelmingly, crushingly negative, criticizing a wide spectrum of issues included in the Gang of Eight bill. The commenters Rubio has invited to speak really, really, really don’t like what he has done.
“This amnesty bill is awful and you should back away from it as you promised you would,” says the very first suggestion, setting the tone for what is to come.
“Here’s how to improve the bill,” says another. “KILL IT.” “The only way to improve this bill is to chuck it into the garbage can,” says another. “We cannot believe you are so naive to believe that this bill would work.” “My suggestion is a simple one,” says another. “Throw out this bill and enforce our current immigration laws.”
“NO, NO, NO,” says yet another.
Other suggestions focus specifically on the enforcement provisions in the bill. “Secure the border first, this is not debatable,” says one. “As a Cuban-American myself, I can tell that a lot of Cuban-Americans are against this bill if the border is not secured first,” says another. “I would not be voting for Sen. Rubio again if border security is not first achieved.” “NO amnesty for those here illegally,” says another. Yet another: “Enforce the laws that we already have.” And another: “Please — no agreement unless the borders will be secured, and no rewards for wrongdoing!!” “The border must be sealed FIRST,” says another. “Obama lies. He will not enforce border security.” Then: “Common sense would dictate STRONGER ENFORCEMENT at the border FIRST!!” “I suggest that until the borders are secure, nothing else should happen,” says another. “We have been promised secure borders before and it hasn’t happened. Once secure, we can discuss the rest of your bill.” Says yet another: “I have no problems with compassionately dealing with the illegals that are already here, but by giving then amnesty (or whatever else you want to call it) before any real enforcement kicks in is the biggest problem. Don’t tell me no one gets legalized until DHS submits and starts a plan to secure the border. That’s not enforcement.”
Still other suggestions focused on the economic effects of immigration reform. “Tear up the bill and start over,” says one. “The 20 plus million unemployed Americans need to be employed before any talk of legalizing the illegals.” “The days of open arms for aliens is long over we simply cannot afford it any longer our economy is in the worst condition that it has ever been,” says another. “We have far far too many of our own people out of work, living on the streets and starving.” “I do not think that amnesty is the answer,” says yet another. “Our real unemployment rate is at least twice that which the government claims.” “Not ’til every American, American senior, veteran have jobs should we even consider any form of allowing lawbreakers amnesty,” says another. “You can improve it by scrapping it,” says another. “We don’t need more competition for the few jobs out there.”
Still others focused on the ethical issue of rewarding immigrants who came to the United States illegally. “I came to this my now country LEGALLY,” says one. “I feel every one has to obey the laws, and not be rewarded for breaking it.” “This giving them a free pass,” says another. “This is a country of laws and if I had followed the laws to become American citizen and now we are just going to let these people who broke our laws the same rights as the people that followed the rules this is not right.” “You say your bill is not a reward, but these folks broke the law, how is giving them a chance to become citizens not a reward?” asks another. “As for improving your bill: Enforce the laws on the books.” “No matter how thickly you try to veil it, illegals are being rewarded for committing a criminal act,” says another, “while those who went through the system are cheated by those who ‘cut the lines.’” Says another: “NEVER reward bad behavior.” And another: “Absolutely no amnesty to those who entered the country illegally.”
Still others focused on the process of legislating an issue as far-reaching as immigration reform. “The most important thing you can do to improve the bill is to break it into several smaller bills, each dealing with the aspects that you feel important,” says a commenter who identifies himself as a former government executive. “Having served in the Department of Defense under five presidents…I can tell you that 800 page bills have many hidden aspects that are never uncovered until the bill is implemented.” Says another: “The wiser plan is to not lump everything into one bill.” Says another: “No way to improve this backroom bill.”
Finally, some commenters are generally skeptical about Rubio’s decision to work with Democrats in the Gang of Eight. “Knowing that most people of the left are happy with the bill makes me think that maybe your team of four senators were taken for a ride,” says one. “You and your gang are destroying our country,” says another. “I will never vote for you again if you do this.” “You are selling us out,” says another. “Savior of the Republican Party? More like its undertaker.”
And Rubio takes flak not just for working with Democrats: “Disappointed to see you teaming up with the other RINOS in the Senate,” says one. “Sorry I voted for you and you will not have my support in the future.” “I’ve never been more disappointed in a politician than I am now with you,” says another. “You’re turning into another John McCain.” “I thought that you were a conservative,” says another, “but I guess that you are another RINO.”
There are a few — a very few — positive comments. Some thank Rubio for taking on a difficult issue. Some express respect for him personally. But the bottom line is that the “suggestions” posted so far are decisively, almost unanimously negative. The majority suggest changes in the bill that would be absolutely unacceptable to Democrats and would kill any chance of the bipartisan agreement on which Rubio has staked so much political capital.
Rubio’s staff is screening nearly 1,000 other suggestions and comments for eventual posting.