Jim Geraghty, National Review:
To understand Marco Rubio’s decision to support the “Gang of Eight” bill in 2013, look no further than the Republican National Committee’s official autopsy of what went wrong in 2012, which proved spectacularly wrong in predicting what the political environment would look like at the end of President Obama’s second term.
The “Growth and Opportunity Project,” as it was called, avoided making specific policy recommendations to Republicans, with one glaring exception: “We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”
The Gang of Eight bill was the primary congressional effort to follow that advice, and Rubio was arguably the figure who most clearly embodied the autopsy’s recommendations. But three years removed from Rubio’s ill-fated effort, it’s obvious that the GOP dodged a bullet.
Today the party is in the midst of a rough, impassioned, and intermittently ugly debate over illegal immigration. Donald Trump rocketed to the front of the Republican pack last year, in large part because of his promise to build a complete, impenetrable, Mexican-financed wall along the southern border and to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Ted Cruz touts his opposition to the Gang of Eight bill, and insists that the amendments he offered at the time, which would have preserved a path to permanent residency, only represented “poison pills” designed to demonstrate Democratic intransigence. Rubio himself has tried to disavow the bill, arguing that it proved unworkable because “the American people have zero trust that the federal government will enforce our laws.”