We think U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said it best, and only in the distorted world of national politics can anyone disagree: “It feels weird to deport a high school valedictorian who was brought here through no fault of his own when he was four years old.”
As a Republican senator, Rubio still has problems with this principle being acted upon by President Barack Obama, who wiggled his way around existing but somewhat ambiguous laws to end deportations of youths who have long been residents of this country.
But Obama, and Rubio are correct to point out that the United States has a significant number of families, in the millions, which have young children living in this country without legal status.
Over time, kids grow up. Are those children illegal aliens, criminal trespassers on the bounty of America? Or, as the president and senator stress, if those children have grown up demonstrating responsibility in school, and probably working at least part-time in the bargain, aren’t they potential assets, not liabilities?
With Rubio and a number of other Republicans, including former President George W. Bush, we have long wondered at the political wisdom of anti-immigrant prejudices in the GOP. Many Americans of Latin heritage may well believe the debate has become politicized.
It’s not that anyone wants to encourage illegal immigration. In fact, despite the presidential order, the authorities will still be busy deporting those who have come to this country without following the rules.
Nevertheless, Rubio’s weird feeling is widely shared. The senator, son of Cuban immigrants, may offer legislation that will compromise on some of the contentious points that have tied up the immigration debate in Congress.
We hope so. This issue cries out for a long-term solution.