Monday, December 17, 2012

Rubio is Juan William's pick for "lawmaker of the year"

Juan Williams, with quite the ode to Marco Rubio in handing out his annual "lawmaker of the year" award.

He dared to speak about young people — including immigrants and minorities — as important Americans who want to work hard but find it difficult to get an education because they live in bad neighborhoods and have families that are often broken.

Rubio wants those young people to identify with Republicans as the party that wants to give them a hand up.

But Williams' strongest praise centers around Rubio's work on immigration reform.

Unlike other members of his party, such as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Rubio talks about immigration in humane, compassionate terms as an issue affecting people’s lives.

“When you talk about illegal immigration, you’re not talking about plagues of locusts, you’re talking about people,” Rubio told reporters last week.

That daring, refreshing approach from a Republican makes Sen. Rubio my man of the year.

While we're on the topic, check out Alex Leary's look at two Hispanic Republicans who are approaching immigration reform differently.

There's Marco Rubio, who's trying to piecemeal immigration reform and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who's far more interested in comprehensive immigration reform.

Doing it Rubio's way could bring on enough Republicans to achieve a deal. But that approach also provides political cover and could leave important policy in the trash bin.

"I know people that are in the immigration advocacy community are concerned that we'll only pass the easy stuff and leave the hard stuff. I don't want to see that either," Rubio said. "We can figure out a sequence."

The Diaz-Balart approach could repeat past failure.

"They both feel a growing and unavoidable sense of responsibility as Republican Hispanics to lead on this issue," said Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist who is close to both Florida lawmakers. "It's an opportunity for both of them to burnish some legislative credentials."