Immigration reform pits Rubio against mentor DeMint
May 6th, 2013
02:01 PM ET
12 months ago

Immigration reform pits Rubio against mentor DeMint

(CNN) – On Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio described former Sen. Jim DeMint as a "great man" and a "mentor."

On Monday, DeMint ran roughshod over the Senate immigration reform effort in part spearheaded by Rubio.

"It will cost the American taxpayer trillions of dollars over the next several decades, and it will make our immigration problems worse. We should not repeat past mistakes by providing an amnesty bill," DeMint said as president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.

DeMint's comments came at a news conference on Heritage's new report on the immigration bill's pathway to citizenship component, drafted by Rubio and a bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Eight." While it's no surprise that Heritage stands against the plan–saying it would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion over the next 50 years–the organization's opposition creates an awkward dynamic between Rubio and DeMint.

Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, largely credits DeMint with his pathway to the Senate. DeMint, then-senator from South Carolina, endorsed Rubio in the summer of 2009, bringing a national spotlight to the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. The support helped push Rubio ahead of incumbent Gov. Charlie Crist and on to the GOP nomination.

Rubio acknowledged their friendship Friday in a brief video address at a dinner honoring DeMint in South Carolina. The senator described him as "a great man, someone who believed in me when no one in Washington did and few people in Florida did either."

"He put his credibility on the line in supporting me, and because of him I won the race for the United States Senate," he said, adding the former senator has been a mentor.

DeMint has become known as a conservative kingmaker; several of his Republican primary endorsees in 2010 and 2012 won the nomination and general election. He resigned from his seat at the end of 2012.

"We miss his leadership (in the Senate), but he's now taken on a new task as president of the Heritage Foundation and he's already making his mark," Rubio said in the video. "Congratulations on your new role. I know you'll continue to serve South Carolina and all Americans in this new capacity."

Rubio, who's considered a potential presidential contender in 2016, has been viewed as the Republican face on immigration reform. Depending on how the legislation shapes up, pundits say the bill could help or hurt whatever White House aspirations he may have.

The immigration plan outlines a 13-year path to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally before 2012. It would take 10 years for the majority of undocumented immigrants to get green cards and then another three years to gain citizenship. The comprehensive package also includes provisions for tightening border security and better enforcing current immigration laws.

Creating a legal pathway for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country would cost taxpayers a minimum $6.3 trillion over the lifetime of those immigrants, according to the new Heritage report.

The organization released a similar response to the immigration reform effort in 2007, which ultimately failed in Congress.

The report argues the average undocumented immigrant is 34-years-old, has a 10th grade education, and receives $14,387 per household in government benefits in excess of taxes paid.

After the first 10 years, immigrants would become eligible for welfare and health care reform, increasing the deficit to $29,500 per household. When an immigrant reaches retirement age, the report argues, the deficit would go down slightly but remain high at about $22,700 per retiree each year.

DeMint said at the news conference that "no sensible person could read this study" and conclude that the bill would have a positive impact. Comparing the bill to "Obamacare," DeMint chided comprehensive legislation and called instead for a "piece by piece approach."

The plan has already seen sharp criticism, including from other right-leaning organizations. Americans for Tax Reform, led by Grover Norquist, and American Enterprise Institute disagree with the report's findings.

The libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, for example, argues Heritage should count individuals, not households, as many undocumented immigrants are married to U.S. citizens or have citizen children who live in the same households.

Critics also say Heritage should use "dynamic scoring," which assumes the legislation will affect the rest of the economy or have an impact on behavior, instead of "static scoring," which assumes that the variables remain the same.

Rubio isn't the only DeMint endorsee in the Gang of Eight. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a super PAC created by DeMint, endorsed Republican Jeff Flake in Arizona last year.

Flake responded to the Heritage report on Twitter, criticizing it for ignoring "economic benefits" and "dynamic scoring."

Rubio hasn't responded to the report Monday, but he argued last week the immigration bill is only a "starting point" and could face changes and amendments this week during markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"If there are ways to make that even better, we're open to it. We want to hear from Sen. DeMint. We want to hear from Heritage. We want to hear from everybody," he said on Fox News.

"We share the same goal which is to have a legal immigration system that works. We have some differences in opinion about how we get there," he said. "This is a tough issue."

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Immigration • Jim DeMint • Marco Rubio
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Guest

    Only 6 trillion more for shamnesty, bend over taxpayers!

    May 6, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Rubio must pretend to be a Latino and DeMint doesn't need to pretend to be a bigoted, intolerant red-neck. Strange opponents... Republicans simply want the Latino vote – but none of "their kind" in our country. (Note: Exemptions are granted for housekeepers, maids, pool boys, and those who do back-breaking yardwork and masonry work).

    May 6, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Warren

    Nut Job..

    May 6, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Democrats can't lose on immigration reform. If immigration reform passes, Democrats will get the lion's share of the credit. If it fails because of Tea Partiers and anti-immigration reform conservatives, the Republican Party will receive the blame. As a national party, the Republican Party will become a permanent minority party for many presidential election cycles to come unless it can change its image, brand, and message. The party of angry old white men will be relevant only on red state and local levels.

    May 6, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    I continue to laugh at Rubio. He really thought that one of these people could be a mentor? I ALMOST feel sorry for him, now that they are starting to show their true colors where everyone can see. He has to learn the hard way who not to trust.

    May 6, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. much thunder..little rain

    we better get this one right...make it 25 yrs...no criminals...fine...then neither party gets alot of credit and in 25 yrs who cares..

    May 6, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    Leave them alone – they are fighting against each other. And they are ALL aggravating the voting public.

    May 6, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. Richard Long

    Playing right into the Democrats hands!
    Part 1: Have Rubio support the Amnesty Bill and have him loose favor with his party. This will eliminate him as a 'threat'
    Part 2: Sacrifice the Amnesty Bill and blame it on the Republicans. Loose the 11-35 million former-criminal-immigrant votes, but ensure the hispanic-american votes are Democrat
    Part 3: Re-launch Blame-and-Shame campaign against Republicans
    Continue to destroy country with divisive policies and practices

    May 6, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. chilly g

    marco you will never be president of the USA so stop trying and be a better senator and stop being a minorities
    hater.

    May 6, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Zerubbabel

    This immigration bill has destroyed any and all presidential hopes of Rubio.wHe is the face of the bill on the right. He will never survive the southern primaries. It looks like it's the Randroid in 2016. Sen Schumer should give Rubio a dollar because Rubio has just played himself, sucker.

    May 6, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Guest

    Legal vs illegal, pretty simple people! You dont get rewarded for illegal ...last I checked.

    May 6, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Dave Francis

    Only by reading between the lines can the Senate’s pending immigration bill uncover the roughly 400 exemptions, exclusion, waivers and grants of discretion. Its true insanity when giving Homeland Liberal Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has almost unlimited discretionary judgment on how to perform her duties, which to me and multitudes of others a potential danger to every American and legal resident. This “WAIVER.—The Secretary, in the Secretary’s sole and none reviewable discretion, may waive the APPLICATION of sub paragraph (A) on behalf of an alien,” states one passage on page 71 of the complex document. The potential recipient of that discretionary political appointee, according to the S 477, is “an alien who departed while under judge’s order and (escaping the United States jurisdiction of the court) t while subject to an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal.” It further says: “The competition requirement under section 253(a) of title 41, United States Code, may be waived or modified by a Federal agency for any procurement conducted to implement this title or the amendments made by this title if the senior procurement executive for the agency conducting the procurement … determines that the waiver or modification is necessary,”
    You want to take America back don't you?

    Then don't sit indolently and let Washington run afoul and you wondering, "What can I do?" Thinking you're helpless. You're not! YOU HAVE THE POWER TO NOT ONLY STOP ANOTHER ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION TRAVESTY OF OUR LAWS, BUT DEMAND A TAX SYSTEM FOR ALL THAT IS FAIR AND EQUITABLE, USING OUR VAST DEPOSITS OF OIL, NATURAL GAS AND CLEAN COAL, REDUCING THE CORRUPT POWER OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND ALSO REDUCING OUR HARD EARNED TAXPAYER MONEY GOING TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES.

    May 6, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Dave Francis

    While on radio personality Mike Gallagher's radio talk show, Sen. Marco Rubio confirmed the following:
    The bill that's in place right now probably can’t pass the House. It will have to be adjusted, because people are very apprehensive about the willingness of the government to enforce the laws now.
    Even though the Gang of Eight and other pro-amnesty Senators have been doing their utmost to sell the "benefits" of the amnesty legislation, they haven't been able to hide the numerous loopholes that would allow illegal aliens to get out of paying back taxes, access taxpayer-funded social services, and allow future waves of illegal immigration. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is not amused by the fanfare:
    They’re selling the sizzle. They’re selling the smell. And its shoe leather instead of a steak.... But I think the tide is beginning to turn. A lot of people, like myself, I thought the bill was better than it is based on what I hear the proponents say. But as we examine it, we realize that this is going to be a disaster. It’s going to be a disaster for enforcement, it’s going to be a disaster for our budget, it’s going to be a disaster for the wages of American workers, it’s going to add to our financial deficit, Social Security and Medicare are going to be impacted over the long term by trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities and these numbers are not going to be disputed if we go forward.
    It seems that Sen. Rubio is hearing negative opinions of the bill from more than Sen. Sessions. Just one day after saying the bill wouldn't get past the House of Representatives; he went on Sean Hannity’s radio show and said:
    This bill.... quite frankly, may struggle to pass the Senate, if it doesn’t deal with [securing the border]. So we’ve got some work to do. And, clearly, what we have in there now is not good enough for too many people and so we’ve got to make it better and that’s what I’m asking for and that’s what we’re working on.

    May 6, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. Dave Francis

    Do the politicians who drafted the new immigration law, think that THE PEOPLE are stupid enough not to investigate carefully the doting of “I’s” and the crossing of “T’s”? Yes! They really do believe everybody is so easy to fleece, because that’s what happened back in 1986? We trusted the lawmakers and the legislation passed and as usual the taxpayers got the rough end of the pineapple? This why we have 11 million illegal immigrants, the Dream Act, Sanctuary Cities and out-of-control Family Chain Migration?
    57 million get legal status under Gang of Eight amnesty, while millions of American still remain unemployed. Just released by Fox News is the updated version of the Heritage Foundation report and calculation that to pass this new Immigration reform bill, will cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 TRILLION DOLLARS. That’s a rising estimate of the previous cost of $2.6 TRILLION DOLLARS. THAT’S OVER $4 TRILLION DOLLARS MORE?
    Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) remains the indispensable politician in shielding American sovereignty from the open-borders zealots. He lately exposed his population-increase estimation for the Senate's enforcement-free amnesty bill which is excessively intricate to conceal its caustic rudiments. Incidentally, it's not the first time that anti-American fanatics have gone nut-so to overpower conventional citizens demographically with bloated numbers of government dependent foreigners. Sen. Sessions trusts that the American populations are listening and ready to flood their U.S. Senators, insisting that this immigration Reform legislation cannot be passed as it contains so many intentional loopholes and waivers, that only a few Senators have bothered to see through the charade?

    May 6, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. Jonquil

    It sounds like The GOP doesn't have faith in its outreach agenda; they're just not going to be able to reach enough Latino voters within the next year and the idea of adding a whole lot more to the equation in 13 years' time, seems like more than they can handle. Yes, Democrats seem poised to win from this, no matter what, but I think some Republicans are realists within their party and they know that the only hope they have of staying competitive, into the next decade, is to push to maintain the current immigration system and focus on mass deportment in lieu of a path to citizenship.

    They are clinging on for dear life and I think many truly believe they are fighting to hold onto the "soul" of this country - a glorious, rose-tinted past that they see quickly slipping away. I know that's their perspective. That's why this issue is going to be harder to address than many previously thought.

    May 6, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  16. Jeff in Virginia

    This shouldn't be shocking- DeMint hates people like Rubio.

    May 6, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. blue max

    so, what is demints solution...deport 11 million? really?

    May 6, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Tea Party Is Choking the GOP

    DeMint and Rubio...two worthless losers, bought and paid for by special interest.

    If DeMint EVER was anybody's mentor....you know they don't give a flip about the American electorate.

    May 6, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  19. Namecarlos lara

    We need the reform, we want our dignity back to get together with the country that gave us the chance to be somebody. GOD BLESS AMERICA

    May 6, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. Tea Party Thomas

    We can take our country back. Deport these thieving illegals with only the clothes on there backs. Anything they made in this country was from breaking the law. We should sell all of there procession to help pay for their removal.

    Conservative values for a Conservative America.

    Rand Paul 2016

    May 6, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. Pete

    Demints Heritage Foundation states if immigrents stay unemployed what it'll cost Americans ,which many don't and incidently even being illegal most times than not they pay some type of taxes as well..Remember Demint left the senate for a cushy job at 1 million plus to head the republicans Heritage Foundation and he has to do some obstructionistic work to earn his keep right!!Rubio isn't much better changing stories to get elected in Florida as senator and after being caught using campaign funds for his family I hope he's paid his fines, he's now on a crusade to bring all his immigrent friends to Florida and all states in between with the premise they'll eventually become republicans if Rubio plays his cards right and we hope as heck not but that's up to the new Americans to decide as well!!

    May 6, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. emskadittle

    rubio still thinks he is a viable republican canidate

    May 6, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Boomer in Mo

    My money is on Rubio. He is about 10 times smarter than Dimmwit, ah I mean DeMint

    May 6, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. drake mallard

    “Marco Rubio and Mario Diaz-Balart,leana Ros-Lehtinen. ted cruz/other cubans have credibility on immigration issues when they advocates that immigrants from other countries are treated the same as those from their homeland – Cuba. So either grant automatic legal status as soon as they set foot on American soil, or make Cubans go through the same process as any other immigrant. Until then, just another hypocrite.”

    May 6, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. stan

    A little history lesson:
    Implicit in the 1986 immigration reform was that once that AMNESTY was “done,” it would “solve” the problem—combine a unique act of mercy with a lasting enforcement structure.

    Here is what we were told during the 1986 AMNESTY. The late Senator and drunken murderer Ted Kennedy made this point explicit. He grandly proclaimed in 1986:

    "We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another Amnesty bill like this."

    How did Ted's promise work out?

    ANSWER : We are told by our wonderful politicians that we have 11 million, probably closer to 20 million, and perhaps even 30 million lining up for AMNESTY. They are the poorest of the poor, and want free stuff that our government has so generously offered to anyone who asks.

    May 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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