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. Me

    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.
    ________________
    Hey sniffit.....what is Obumer's approval rate??????? That is right, MORE DISAPPROVE then approve of him!!!!!!!!! All you libtards need to start thinking for yourself and stop drinking the kool-aid!!!! Get a clue you blind sheep!!!!

    June 25, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Me

    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.
    __________________

    Sorry California, that is all they have now, HATE is all they are about these days!!!! Look at Obama's approval rating (more disapprove then approve!!!!!), people are starting to realize just how hateful they are!!!

    June 25, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Widely considered a potential 2016 presidential contender, Rubio said Tuesday he "really (doesn't) think about that right now,"

    He looks in the Mirror every morning and thinks " El Presidente " .

    June 25, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. California

    Me

    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.
    __________________

    Sorry California, that is all they have now, HATE is all they are about these days!!!! Look at Obama's approval rating (more disapprove then approve!!!!!), people are starting to realize just how hateful they are!!!
    ---
    The hate ridden democrats screaming others hating. How ironic.

    June 25, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. Name Uche Agonsi

    Immigrantion, Immigrantion, Immigrantion..........is this all that would attract the Hispanic votes...... What of the obstructionist policy of the Repubs against all Obama measures to improve the economy, create employment & affordable health services for these people. Besides, who among the Repubs would be fit to be voted for & under what achievements. Unless these Hispanics are easily enticed by minute political gestures, its going to be a long, long journey to earn the Hispanic votes , & the Repubs are yet to start.

    June 25, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. California

    The incompetents of this administration is laughably pathetic.

    June 25, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  7. California

    Time to end affirmative action. It's just plain racist.

    June 25, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. Michael Benjamin

    The only thing overrated is Rubio!

    June 25, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  9. granny

    Rubio is finished as gop pres. candidate, he is a democrat

    June 25, 2013 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. alf564

    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague."

    June 25, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  11. Ja

    Who is gonna serve him strawberries, otherwise, mow his grass

    June 25, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. OnePercent

    With the Obamacare exception this bill actually ENCOURAGES businesses to hire immigrants instead of American citizens! Regardless of party politics, this bill is a massive insult to the American worker. Anyone who supports this bill is a traitor, plain and simple.

    June 25, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. NameTodd A

    Another liar screwing Americans, 20 million Americans can't find work and this clown wants to give us 11 million more people to compete with for the 5 job openings, rubio is dumber Harry the girly voice reid, CLOWN

    June 25, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP teaparty clown and goof anchor baby from Florida will be a one termed like the illegal Cruz and teaparty clown lee, GOP garbage of America!!!!

    June 25, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  15. Vickie

    I hope your goose is cooked "well-done' over this one. You told one group one thing and another group something else. You, Marco Rubio, are absolutely DONE. Just another wannabee lifetime politician. Nothing new here.

    June 25, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. Caulfield

    This minion, is acting disillusioned. Maybe he's finally coming to terms with the fact that he's not as important to his party, as he thought.

    June 25, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  17. ED FL

    Bye Bye Rubio when your next election comes up . Too many Floridians remember your term as Speaker and all the the huge amounts of missing money while your house and beauty salon visits took up high end work and renovations. Maybe Cuba might be interested in you. Your ex-constituants would gladly provide you with a Raft and see you off in a southeast direction.

    June 25, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  18. Dan5404t

    Of course Rubio is doing this because he knows it's the only thing that can make people think he's really a compromiser and hopefully get the Hispanic vote in 2016. Well, the Hispanics are mostly Mexican and some South Americans. They really don't consider Rubio as one of them at all. The fact is, his politics are generally those of the ultra right.

    June 25, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
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