At a time when we thought Sen. Marco Rubio couldn't go any farther to the right, when his pandering to conservative extremists had become too repugnant to bear, when so many Latinos were already identifying him as our own "Uncle Tom," out he comes with an amendment to make immigration reform contingent on English proficiency.
He has no shame. His excessively subservient loyalty to the tea party is downright embarrassing.
Rubio represents a community where immigrants, including his own parents, were not required to learn English until they applied to become citizens. Yet now, with amazing gall, he wants to require English proficiency from green card applicants.
Doing the biding for his hard-right masters, Uncle Tom Rubio has introduced yet another hurdle that could potentially delay many immigrants from becoming permanent legal residents and eventually citizens and voters.
Although he had vowed to stick to the original legislation proposed by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators, of whom he is a member, Rubio introduced an amendment to his own bill last week, not to ease the process for his immigrant constituents, but to make it more difficult for them.
He wants to require green card applicants to demonstrate the same proficiency in English that is now required of applicants for citizenship.
Of course, coming from an immigrant community, Rubio must know that most legal immigrants normally learn to speak English WHILE they have a green card, and that making English a requirement for permanent residency would create chaos in his own community. He must know that many legal immigrants delay learning English, not because they fail to see its importance, but because they are working so hard to feed their families.
He must know there aren't enough English courses to handle the current demand from immigrants who WANT to learn English, and that suddenly throwing 11 million undocumented immigrants into the mix would only stall or even paralyze the legalization process.
He must know that the assumption that immigrants don't want to learn English is just flat out wrong, a red herring. He must have heard about the new study that found Latinos are learning English faster than past immigrants.
And yet instead of trying to dispel the misconceptions against his own people, he reinforces them!
Mind you, as the bill is now written, applicants for legalization would be required to take one English class. But that's not enough for Uncle Tom Rubio. Now he says this is a "loophole" that must be filled by requiring applicants demonstrate "an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language."
But was it a "loophole" when his parents got their green cards? Would he be a senator today, would he have been even born in this country if another conservative puppet had closed that "loophole" back then?
The irony is that in spite of Rubio's grotesque brown-nosing, the tea party radicals who once supported him are now turning against him. To them, any kind of legalization program is unacceptable "amnesty," and Rubio is seen a "traitor" — which is good word to describe the way he is also seen by many Latinos.
Just the mention of Rubio's name got booed at an anti-immigrant rally on Capitol Hill last week. And when another Latino Republican, Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, tried to say a few words in Spanish at that rally, there were cries of "learn English" from the crowd. Tolerance is not for them.
Fortunately, Rubio's proposal was not included in an agreement passed by the Senate yesterday to increase border security. And hopefully an English proficiency amendment will no longer be needed for the bill to clear the Senate.
But in the House of Representatives, where anti-immigrant and English-only zealots reign, Uncle Tom Rubio's English proficiency hurdle is likely to be very popular. And unfortunately, it could be the deal breaker sought by the puppeteers who pulls his strings. He is to Latinos what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is to African Americans — an embarrassment!
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.