Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is pushing back on a report in Politico suggesting that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants would be a windfall for the Democratic Party.
The story suggests immigration reform could "cripple Republican prospects in many states they now win easily." Assuming all 11 million illegal immigrants could vote and that 71 percent supported President Obama in 2012 (his share of the Hispanic vote last fall) the article says that he would have significantly narrowed the GOP's margin in Arizona, Georgia and Texas.
Rubio took issue with the analysis for several reasons, pointing to comments made by Republican strategist Karl Rove on Fox News earlier in the day.
"Not all 11 million illegal immigrants here today will qualify to become citizens, and not all of the 11 million illegal immigrants are Hispanic," reads a statement on Rubio's Web site. "Historically, many green card holders choose not to become citizens. And, unfortunately, not all eligible voters – regardless of their backgrounds – turn out to vote."
A 2010 Pew study found that about 81 percent of illegal immigrants are Hispanic. (Rubio quotes an earlier Pew study pegging the number at 76 percent.) He also points out that Latinos tend to vote at lower rates than other ethnic groups. And the senator argues that using Mitt Romney's share of the Hispanic vote is misleading, because a future Republican candidate might do better, as George W. Bush did in 2004.
It's one of several "MYTH vs. FACT" sheets Rubio has posted to his Senate Web site, part of an attempt to dispel conservative concerns about immigration reform. Among the other "myths" addressed in the past few days are rumors that the bill would give illegal immigrants free phones and federal benefits, that it contains pork for Florida's cruise industry, that the border commission it creates is toothless and that it will bring in 30 million foreign workers.
The idea that Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot by giving millions of Hispanic immigrants the chance to vote is not a new one. In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year, Donald Trump called immigration reform a GOP "suicide mission."
The 13-year path to citizenship in the immigration reform proposal means that few illegal immigrants could vote before 2026 or 2028. The Fix looked at the potential fallout of immigration reform earlier this year and concluded that -- with all the caveats that Rubio mentioned -- Democrats would likely benefit.