Rubio: Congress can make path to citizenship tougher
May 3rd, 2013
09:14 AM ET
12 months ago

Rubio: Congress can make path to citizenship tougher

(CNN) – The route to legal status for undocumented immigrants, spelled out in pending Senate legislation, could be made even tougher by Congress, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wrote in an op-ed Friday.

Rubio is one of the most high profile members of a bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators who unveiled immigration reform legislation last month that includes an eventual pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants. It also mandates tighter border security and better enforcement of current immigration laws.

Some conservatives, including popular radio talk show hosts, have said the pathway amounts to amnesty, and have lambasted Rubio for his role in the bill.

"I've been listening to the voices on these platforms and taking notes about ways to improve the immigration-reform legislation," Rubio wrote in the Wall Street Journal, saying he's heard concerns the border security "triggers" included in the bill aren't stringent enough, and that implementing the new law would be costly.

The bulk of public outcry, however, has remained on the pathway to citizenship. In the proposed legislation, it would take 10 years for the majority of undocumented immigrants to get green cards and then another three years to gain citizenship.

The process would also be contingent on bolstering security. The legislation mandates strict new controls on the U.S.-Mexico border before any pathway to legality is opened. Yet some critics have wondered how the federal government will enforce tighter border security in the future if it has failed to apply current laws up until now.

"For those who have suggested that the border security triggers outlined in the Senate bill aren't strong enough, we now have a chance to strengthen them," Rubio wrote, noting that concerns the pathway is "too generous or lenient" would also be addressed.

"Congress will have a chance to make it tougher, yet still realistic," he wrote. "No one has a right to violate the immigration laws and remain here with impunity. Finding a sensible way to resolve our illegal-immigration problem must include penalties that show the rest of the world that it really is cheaper, easier and faster to immigrate to the U.S. the right way."

Rubio, elected to the Senate in 2010 with strong support from tea party activists and other grassroots conservatives, is thought to be mulling a possible bid for the 2016 GOP nomination, and pundits question whether his push for immigration reform will hurt or help any potential White House run.

On Thursday, the conservative magazine National Review unveiled its May cover: a photo of Rubio unveiling the Senate immigration legislation with the headline "Rubio's Folly."

The senator's op-ed Friday was the latest stop on Rubio's tour to allay the fears of conservatives on immigration. He's made the rounds of right-wing radio talk shows, including on Monday, when he told host Mike Gallagher the current version of the bill was unlikely to gain enough support for approval in the GOP-led House of Representatives.

"It will have to be adjusted, because people are very suspicious about the willingness of the government to enforce the laws now," Rubio said.

That suspicion, and the ensuing suggestions on how to improve the bill, are an important part of the political process, Rubio wrote Friday.

"The immigration-reform bill in the Senate is a solid starting point for solving this problem, and I believe it can be made even better as Congress begins to actively work on it in committee next week," he wrote. "But defeating it without offering an alternative cannot be the conservative position on immigration reform."

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Immigration • Marco Rubio
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    Hear the Conservatives scream " RINO, RINO, RINO!!!!!!!!!" A few months ago, he was their darling, proving that they are fickle and desperate.

    May 3, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. Data Driven

    Too many moneyed interests in this country financially benefit from a permanent, illegal underclass. I'll assume Rubio is sincere in his desire for immigration reform, but I think he'll find - IS finding, in fact - that he'll get little support from his party and from his financial backers.

    May 3, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    Rubio will never become President of the United States.
    Rubio will never become Vice President of the United States either.

    Rubio will soon be looking for a private sector job as well, because if nothing else, we Americans need to start weeding out the loners unfit for private sector employment who use the United States government as their personal bank account ... while they hold that same United States government (including we the taxpayers) that pays their bills and pays for their trips and pays for their inactivity ... in contempt.

    May 3, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    The push back anger by conservafives and Tea Partiers will be detrimental to Sen Rubio's presidential ambitions and the Republican Party. Sen Rubio will be seen as a RINO sell out. Speaker Boehner and moderate House Republicans will have to depend on Minority Leader Pelosi's House Democrats to pass immigration reform legislation. Hispanic voters will give most of the credit to Democrats at the polls for many years to come.

    May 3, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Wake up People!

    Really Rubio??? Say it ain't so!!!

    Bye, bye Rubio, your tenure as t0ken just came to a screeching halt....... ROFLMAO!!

    May 3, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. Zerubbabel

    So, you are having seller's remorse, huh Rubio. So now you wish to backtrack on your own legislation. What next, pull a McConnell and filibuster your own bill to keep your fading presidential hopes alive. Too late, Rafael Cruz has replaced you as the Tea Party Latino darling. Maybe you can borrow Romney's etch-a-sketch and reset for the GOP presidential primaries, just a little advice, it did not work out too well for him.

    May 3, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Sniffit

    Bwahahaha...cave to the pressure from Astroturf Frankenstein much? Looks like the Trojan Token is scrambling to save his fantasies of winning the GOP/Teatroll primary....by destroying his chances in the general. How's all that right wingy radicalazationy stuff workin' out for ya, GOPers?

    May 3, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    This country has to get control of both........legal and illegal immigration, as BOTH are out of control.

    May 3, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Tom

    Yup the new, more tolerant, side of the Republican party is really starting to shine through now. I guess they've put that 2012 election thing behind them and have decided continued pandering to the ultra-right is still the best way to win elections. Just ask President Romney - I'm sure he agrees.

    May 3, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. Ed1

    Tougher would be great for the illegal people here now that think the law doesn't apply to them.

    Send them home and let them start over as it should be.

    May 3, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. plain&simple

    To be a leader....one must lead!!! Not so easy hey Ricky boy? Take a nice drink of water and try again!!!

    May 3, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. Yanni

    GOP want everything to be tougher for everybody other than themselves and their sponsors

    May 3, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. lottie

    and another one bites the dust. the republican party has no core and no direction for this country. they show us this at every turn. Take a look at their true colors . Lets see the next token they come up with. Say No to the party of NO

    May 3, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Dave Harris

    Nasty old Republicans don't want to reform immigration. They want to stop it. They're afraid that if immigrants get anything, old people might get less. This is also why they don't want children to get any medical care. 'Greatest generation', indeed.

    May 3, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. Wake up People!

    Correction Dave Harris. They don't care about old people either. Which is why they are constantly trying to destroy Medicare. All they care about is more money for their corporate pimps.

    May 3, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. sanderdog

    What we have now is an unholy alliance between the open borders folks and greedy businesses who want dirt cheap labor. We need to fully implement E-Verify. And, fine the heck out of businesses that use illegal labor. The fine should double for every illegal employee. That would dry up the demand. Then create temporary worker permits that are for work only with no path to citizenship. To become a citizen one should get in line like the other law abiding people have done.

    May 3, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Leadfolloworgetoutoftheway

    I thought the entire purpose of congress was to make life hell on all of us. They've excelled in making themselves look stupid so many times it's laughable. The only downside, they've been instrumental in making the electorate look like fools too. Do something positive for once in your miserable lives, do something for the people, not the party.

    May 3, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Larry L

    @sanderdog
    ======================
    Logical comment w/o the hate and bias. Thanks!

    May 3, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Rob

    When are they going to change the laws so that any Cuban found at sea is rescued but also deported back to Cuba? That causes a strain on the local governments in Florida and takes away jobs from "Americans". Haitians are turned back or deported though. What about Eastern Europeans coming through Canada into the New England area or come for "vacation" and stay? Are they ignored because they are "white" skinned? Mexico is all people talk about with securing our boarders. Mexicans get the negative view on anyone who thinks immigration. All person needs to do is get in the country by any means and just not go back when the visa is expired. I've met many people who have come by this means. They and their country of origin had nothing to do with Mexico.

    May 3, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Jonquil

    "The National Review" totally drained any credibility they had, by removing Grover Norquist from the picture taken at that conference. Norquist supports immigration reform. Maybe it was weird that he was there in the first place, since he's not an elected representative, but he was standing being Rubio in the original picture.

    May 3, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Wilson

    @sanderdog

    What we have now is an unholy alliance between the open borders folks and greedy businesses who want dirt cheap labor. We need to fully implement E-Verify. And, fine the heck out of businesses that use illegal labor. The fine should double for every illegal employee. That would dry up the demand. Then create temporary worker permits that are for work only with no path to citizenship. To become a citizen one should get in line like the other law abiding people have done
    ----------------–
    Agreed.

    May 3, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Wilson

    Rob

    When are they going to change the laws so that any Cuban found at sea is rescued but also deported back to Cuba? That causes a strain on the local governments in Florida and takes away jobs from "Americans". Haitians are turned back or deported though. What about Eastern Europeans coming through Canada into the New England area or come for "vacation" and stay? Are they ignored because they are "white" skinned? Mexico is all people talk about with securing our boarders. Mexicans get the negative view on anyone who thinks immigration. All person needs to do is get in the country by any means and just not go back when the visa is expired. I've met many people who have come by this means. They and their country of origin had nothing to do with Mexico.
    ---------
    Its numbers/percentages. By far, the largest number of illegals are from Mexico.

    May 3, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Why don't you try looking at curtailing the HIRING of illegal immigrants? Or are you supply siders incapable of considering demand...?

    Easy to pretend that you don't want a cheap labor force while taking advantage of it to maximize your profits...

    May 3, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. Nonsensical

    What Rubio has done is move to the right on this issue. He is beginning to realize his political future could be in great jeopardy if he continues with this immigration policy. These people broke the laws of the United States. Call it what one wants, it is amnesty no matter what the penalties eventually become. The federal government has failed to enforce the law and the immigration problem has continued to grow since the ill-fated Reagan policies of the 80's. Now we have an estimated 11 million illegal residents both from crossing the borders without proper credential and expired visas. Congress sits upon high pontificating about this and that without having a clue of the mess they have wrought.

    May 3, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. jboh

    Long past time to flush the TEA potty.

    May 3, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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