This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.
Sen. Marco Rubio seems to have gone missing. Not missing from his Senate votes, like he was infamous for during his first term. Missing from the larger political conversation, especially when it comes to immigration and being a sober counterbalance to President Donald Trump.
During his time in the Senate, Rubio, R-Fla., has not always been a full-throated immigrant advocate. Nevertheless, he has always emerged as someone calling for the respect of immigrants and the need for sensible immigration reform.
Rubio was a member of the 2013 Gang of Eight Senate immigration reform bill. Rubio, the son of immigrants personally knows the relevance of immigration policy. And he also happens to have a mom that won’t let him forget his roots. At the outset of the Gang of Eight meetings, Rubio’s mom left him a voicemail in Spanish saying it was loving advice from the person who cared the most for him in the world.
“Don’t mess with the immigrants, my son. Please, don’t mess with them … They’re human beings just like us, and they came for the same reasons we came. To work. To improve their lives. So please don’t mess with them,” said his mom to the senator in a voicemail he has often quoted.
However, now Rubio is MIA and this in the midst of some real immigrant ugliness — even for Republicans. Earlier this month, Iowa Rep. Steve King tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.” Some Latino Republican members of Congress, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Florida Republicans, came out swinging against King in tweets of their own.
From Rubio, a deafening silence, not just on King’s tweet but on the larger wave of nonsensical immigration policy coming out of the Trump White House. The silence is frustrating to immigration reform advocates, but more than that, it’s puzzling. Politically, the stage is set for Rubio to be the adult in the room and to rise above the fray. (more…)