Rubio: Politics of immigration reform is 'overrated'
June 25th, 2013
02:53 PM ET
10 months ago

Rubio: Politics of immigration reform is 'overrated'

Washington (CNN) - Sen. Marco Rubio, the most prominent Republican working towards immigration reform, continued to argue Tuesday he's not pursuing the issue for his own political agenda and weighed in on his thoughts about 2016.

Applauding the Senate's decision to move forward with a border security amendment Monday night, the first-term senator also acknowledged the difficult position he's been in as he faces criticism from his own party.

"This amendment basically now puts into place virtually everything people have been asking me to do about immigration enforcement since I began talking about this issue," Rubio said during a speech to the American Society of News Editors in Washington.

He ticked off a number of the provisions in the compromise amendment, which includes 20,000 more border agents, the completion of 700 miles of fence along the boundary with Mexico, and $3.2 billion in technology upgrades, among other items.

The Senate decided to proceed with the amendment Monday in a 67-to-27 vote that helped clear a major hurdle for the comprehensive package drafted by the bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight.

The senator from Florida said the politics of immigration reform is "overrated," reiterating his full-throated defense that he's seeking immigration changes out of concern for the country, rather than concern for his political future. "Quite frankly, the politics of it are probably not that positive, certainly in the short term."

Widely considered a potential 2016 presidential contender, Rubio said Tuesday he "really (doesn't) think about that right now," arguing he first has to decide next year whether he'll run for re-election in the Senate before he considers a path to the White House.

"I also want to make sure I have something to contribute. I don't want to just hold office, whether it's in the Senate for re-election or for president or something else, simply because I can," he said. "I'm not at that stage yet."

Rubio, who was elected in 2010 with strong tea party support, also said thinking about higher office "begins to influence the way you behave politically-the decisions you make, the issues you take on, the stances that you adopt," adding he wants to stay focused on his current job.

While some Republicans have been heralding immigration reform as a chance to win more votes in the rising Hispanic community, Rubio said he has never presented it from that angle but acknowledged the voting demographic could look different down the road if immigration reform becomes law.

"I would not look at how people feel today politically and say that's how they're going to feel 10-15 years from now," he said. "America changes immigrants…People will change, especially once they begin to become fully enveloped in the American economic experience."

The Senate could start voting on the full package this week. If it passes, it then heads to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where House Speaker John Boehner has stated he won't take up the bill unless it has support from a majority of House Republicans.

Asked what he thinks will happen in the chamber, Rubio said the House is "going to do what the House wants to do" and made the case that the body should consider the Senate version of the bill.

"But ultimately they're going to have their own process and I'm not going to tell them how to run it," he said, predicting the House version will "look substantially different" from the Senate bill, especially on border security and the timeline for legal status of undocumented immigrants.

The biggest challenge that lies ahead, he added, is winning confidence from the public that the government can actually carry out the border security provisions the bill employs. Citing low approval ratings for Congress and a series of controversies plaguing the Obama administration, Rubio said "trust in the federal government today is probably as low as it's been since Watergate."

Growing more impassioned in his speech, Rubio devoted a substantial amount of time to talking about the country's history of immigration and his own family's story of emigrating from Cuba.

"Somehow all these different people from all these different places created the single greatest nation man has ever known, and I refuse to believe that we're still not that country," he said. "Because if we are, then we've lost the essence of who we are and the world has lost its greatest hope-that shining city on the hill."

– CNN's Alan Silverleib and Dana Bash contributed to this report.


Filed under: Immigration • Marco Rubio
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    " it appears unlikely the House would pass any measure that re-allows the federal government to oversee local voting laws. House Republicans leaders did not immediately issue reactions to the court's ruling."

    Yeah, they're busy behind closed doors planning their party's funeral. The VRA was reauthorized in 2006 after extensive testimony and evidence presented in the Conrgessional record. EXTENSIVE. It was reauthorized by a massively bipartisan majority in the House of 390. The 5 conservatives on the SCOTUS just ignored all of it an interposed their own narrow-minded judgment in place of Congress's. For the House GOP/Teatrolls to fail, refuse and obstruct legislating replacements for Section 4 and Section 5 that meet the criteria this insane SCOTUS decision forth...to fail to even try to pass something at all instead of gloating and thinking they've just been given the excuse to kill the VRA that they've always wanted...will absolutely destroy them. They have a choice: man up as a party OR pick its burial plot.

    June 25, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. MTATL67

    What a liar

    June 25, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz aka Take Back The House

    There is no one to blame except YOUR party Marco. They're going to hang you out to dry.

    June 25, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. Guest

    The politics is overated rubio and you're on the wrong side of the facts, commonly known as lies!

    June 25, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. California

    In the 50's they implemented Operation-wetback and it worked just fine. They need to do it again.

    June 25, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Bill from GA

    Since the Sequester had forced cutbacks to the Border Patrol, and is expected to force more cutbacks in the years ahead, how are these extra expenses going to be paid for?

    I'm not against the added enforcement, but will Congress try to take more from food stamps or aid to the elderly ( favorite targets of the conservatives ) to fund it? Or just add the cost to the debt?

    June 25, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    After this morning's SCOTUS ruling thanks CNN for thinking that the Cuban water baby boy is "prominent.". You know he was booed by his own tea trolls (even if he hid behind the curtains and never showed his face) in DC while the flake and the Canadian born cross and gorhmet(sp) were cheered?
    I needed the laugh today after the SCOTUS wiped their behinds with the hundreds who marched, we're jailed and died for the one right we all have as American citizens regardless of race, creed or social standing!
    I wonder where thomas would be today. Probably washing dishes at a restaurant.

    June 25, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    Do these guys know these India guys are coming to rape our benefit system be they doctors or IT. Very pathetic not to know. Cut number of visas–job train our folks–they are not that dumb.

    June 25, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Bill from GA

    " Rubio devoted a substantial amount of time to talking about ... his own family's story of emigrating from Cuba. "

    Was that the TRUE story or the one he used when running for the Senate, about fleeing Castro??

    June 25, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Guest

    If it will screw the hard working Amercian citizens....dumbocrats will find a way to jam through a lousy bill! It wont affect the ruling class that is living off of our money so they dont really care.

    June 25, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz aka Take Back The House

    Congress will fail o fix the VRA ultimately leading to the death of the RepubliKLAN Party. I'll be wearing all black next November to watch this funeral. You idiots tried to surpress the vote last year and it backfired in your face. What the hell do you think is going to happen next year? MASSIVE TURNOUT!!!

    R.I.P. G.O.T.P.

    June 25, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Aw, Humm,
    What's that you say? The Republician Party is planning it's Funeral? Now why I ask, why did that black Democrat Congressman, from Alabama, who seconded Obama's first Nomination switch to the Republician Party? And aw, Humm, why did that Black Legistatior from lousiana switch to the Republician Party. And come to think of it, why is Herman Cain a Republician? All this for expanding the Nanny State? For sure? All together now, Nanny State, food Stamps, Depression !!

    June 25, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. Donkey Party

    California – The 50's is where you and your right-winger ideas are from (and that's 1850's). Oh, and thanks for confirming what we all already know of you from your asinine comments, that you're a proud racist.

    June 25, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Rubio: Politics of immigration reform is 'overrated'"

    Trojan Token's approval has plummeted by 15 points since February and his hopes for 2016 have been completely obliterated. BUT...Please proceed. Between the House GOP/Teatrolls killing immigration reform, the conservative SCOTUS trying to open the floodgates to voter suppression, voter dilution and disenfranchisement, and the predictable state GOP/Teatroll legislative reaction to the VRA ruling...well....we can really just reduce it all to 2 words for the GOP/Teatrolls:

    GAME OVER.

    June 25, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Tigas

    The enforcement amendment does nothing. There are over 400 waivers and exceptions that invalidate any type of enforcement.
    Yet again, another example of the US Government failing it's LEGAL citizens.

    June 25, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. California

    Donkey Party

    California – The 50's is where you and your right-winger ideas are from (and that's 1850's). Oh, and thanks for confirming what we all already know of you from your asinine comments, that you're a proud racist.
    ---–
    Demcorats all inclusive argument again? You have nothing but hate lib. If you don't have debating skills you're welcome to leave.

    June 25, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. California

    Donkey Party – How is a legal vs illegal issue racist?

    Answer if you can.

    June 25, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Dick

    Rubio is a pathological liar. ...or is he being blackmailed? ...or is he stupid? He is saying the exact opposite of what he said in 2010 on Amnesty – which this is.
    This guy and the others must be being blackmailed to be this blatant. Hatch? Corker? ...what happend all of a sudden? Are Obama and Janet using NSA tapped data against them? What happend here? This sudden amnesty windfall is truly amazing!|
    THX! DICK

    June 25, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. Sean

    Well, if anyone would know anything about being overrated, it's this guy.

    June 25, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Michigan patriot

    Very disappointed that Marco Rubio did this. More illegals coming here and screwing the economy more that what it is now.
    Secure the border???? Sure, after all of them are here, maybe then they are going to do something. Enforcement is not going to happen. All that this administration wants is votes, that's it, and Rubio fell right into their trap. Very disappointed!

    June 25, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. rs

    The senator from Florida said the politics of immigration reform is "overrated," Gee, much like the Senator himself!

    June 25, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. rs

    California

    In the 50's they implemented Operation-wetback and it worked just fine. They need to do it again.
    _______________________________
    Be sure to tell us how many percentage points you'd like your income taxes to go up to accomplsh that.

    IF that worked so well, how ome we till have the problem? Meanwhile the CBO says Immigration reform saves tax dollars, naturally you go with airfare x 11 milion. A good small government, fiscal conservative approach.

    June 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. tom l.

    @Sniffit,
    What a disgusting comment. "trojan token". Why do you judge everything by race? You are the only one that mentions it. You obviously care about race a lot more than 90% of the country. You mention it all the time. You always go to that and I think it's sad.
    I would love to have a rational conversation with you with regards to the TEA Party. I have to assume that you haven't had an honest, in depth conversation with someone who supports the TEA Party, and I think it would be of great benefit to you. You make all of these assumptions about the TEA Party and race, when that is probably the furthest thing from what they care about. Honestly, I'm not challenging you or your manhood here. I just know that you have been badly misiniformed and probably have never really had a real conversation with someone. It would do you some good. I believe that you will be much happier and not hold such hatred/anger towards them if you understood their point of view better. Clearly, you don't understand it now.

    June 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. rs

    Aw, Humm,
    What's that you say? The Republician Party is planning it's Funeral? Now why I ask, why did that black Democrat Congressman, from Alabama, who seconded Obama's first Nomination switch to the Republician Party? And aw, Humm, why did that Black Legistatior from lousiana switch to the Republician Party. And come to think of it, why is Herman Cain a Republician? All this for expanding the Nanny State? For sure? All together now, Nanny State, food Stamps, Depression !!
    _______________________________
    Ray- remind us again how Romney won? Oh yeah, He lost women, Blacks, Hispanics, the Youth vote, Asians, the 20-4 year olds. Am I missing anyone?

    June 25, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. Liberal

    rs

    California

    In the 50's they implemented Operation-wetback and it worked just fine. They need to do it again.
    _______________________________
    Be sure to tell us how many percentage points you'd like your income taxes to go up to accomplsh that.

    IF that worked so well, how ome we till have the problem? Meanwhile the CBO says Immigration reform saves tax dollars, naturally you go with airfare x 11 milion. A good small government, fiscal conservative approach.
    =================
    It got rid of those illegals but they didn't enforce the laws just like they didn't in 1986 because democrats didn't hold up their end.
    Try cutting down on some of Obama's $40-$100 Million tax paid trips.

    June 25, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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