United States Senator Marco Rubio is receiving a lot of pressure from the Tea Party activist group to deliver a campaign rhetoric for tougher immigration enforcement. “We’ve been waiting for him to come up with something and to be a leader on this issue,” said the founder of the Fort Lauderdale branch of the group. When President Obama recently traveled to Texas to call for a renewed immigration debate, Sen. Rubio said the borders needed to be secured before anything, demanding also that E-Verify be nationalized. Yet Sen. Rubio is being called out for not having made an effort to sponsor immigration legislation or even highlight the issue. Given the recent speculation, there may be a strategic reason in his inaction.
While the unemployment rate, the national debt and Medicare are the issues that dominate on Capitol Hill now, the flicker of activity regarding immigration exposes the pressure and pitfalls facing Sen. Rubio. It is also worth noting that he is being torn in opposite directions by his political base: Washington’s Republican elite and Florida’s grass-roots activists that propelled him into office. On the one hand, in being the son of Cuban exiles and a first-generation American himself, there is pressure coming from the immigrant population looking for a politician who sympathizes with their cause. On the other hand, his party stripes make it so that there are many that expect this charismatic leader to be the face of the Republican party, demanding that stricter enforcement measures be implemented to curb the astronomical growth in the immigrant population. Given his position of prominence, there are those who even consider him to be a good candidate for the vice-presidential ticket. Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida who now heads the American Conservative Union, was quoted boasting that Sen. Rubio’s inclusion in the 2012 race for the White House would “almost guarantee” a Republican victory. If this is to be declared the ultimate goal, then the safe route for Sen. Rubio would surely be to avoid being drawn into a serious immigration debate. “If anything, they’re saying [to Rubio] ‘Let’s not talk about this,'” said a national Republican consultant. “It motivates Hispanics to look at Democrats and Obama.”