Marco Rubio's immigration reform balancing act rubbing some the wrong way
WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio has for months positioned himself as the focus of the immigration debate, the reason why a bill has gotten as far as it has. But now he's managed to create an aura of mystery: Is he on board or not?
A series of increasingly mixed signals from the Florida Republican — including telling a conservative radio host Tuesday he would vote against the bill he helped write if changes aren't made — has frustrated and worried reform advocates as the Senate is scheduled to begin debate next week.
"It's surprising to see somebody who has been a key sponsor — the key sponsor — of well-balanced, bipartisan legislation calling so loudly for it to be amended," said David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "In politics, perception is everything, and it's deeply concerning a lot of us. I have a lot of respect for Sen. Rubio, but a true leader puts politics aside. This is not an issue you can play both sides."
Rubio rejected criticism he has hurt the bill's chances. "One of the reasons why I was asked to even join this effort is to help bring Republicans on board. That's what I'm trying to do," he told reporters Wednesday after meeting with House Republicans, many of whom are opposed to the Senate's approach, which includes tighter enforcement of immigration laws while putting 11 million people on a path to citizenship.
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