Rubio lays out proposal to 'modernize' immigration
January 12th, 2013
01:31 PM ET
10 years ago

Rubio lays out proposal to 'modernize' immigration

(CNN) - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is laying out elements of his proposal to reform the immigration system, which he pitches as much-needed modernization for the outdated system.

Rubio, who was elected in 2010 to his first U.S. Senate term, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Saturday that his plan would include a permanent residency provision and a route to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, but he stressed that the plan was “not blanket amnesty or a special pathway to citizenship.”

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The crux of his plan is to meet the country’s economic needs, including expanding the skilled workforce and supporting agriculture, which has relied on undocumented immigrants.

“I don't think that in the 21st century we can continue to have an immigration system where only 6.5% of people who come here, come here based on labor and skill,” he said in the interview. “We have to move toward merit and skill-based immigration."

Rubio has previously spoken out in favor of immigration reform and said last summer he was drafting a GOP alternative to the DREAM Act proposals, which would provide some form of legal status to young people who were brought into the U.S. illegally but who seek higher education or military service.

He put his plans on hold in June as President Barack Obama announced he would suspend deportations on many of these young adults. Critics dismissed it as a political move in an election year.

In a December interview on NBC, Obama said he would work on immigration in the first year of his second term.

“I've said that fixing our broken immigration system is a top priority. I will introduce legislation in the first year to get that done,” he said. “We can do it in a comprehensive way that the American people support. That's something we should get done.”

Rubio’s proposal comes ahead of specifics from the president, whom he says has “not done a thing” on the issue. Perhaps, he said, Obama would work with him on this issue because “maybe he's interested in his legacy.”

He supports increasing the caps for immigrants in both skilled and labor roles and allowing undocumented immigrants to “earn” a form of legal status. He also supports an e-verify database system which employers would be required to use to determine whether a potential hire is legally employable.

"Here's how I envision it," he told the Journal. "They would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check. … They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they've been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country."

The system would not only crack down on illegal immigration, but he says it would also benefit undocumented workers. "When someone is [undocumented] they're vulnerable to being exploited."

Besides being a solution to the immigration issue, Rubio says it is politically beneficial to his party. Obama won an overwhelming percentage of Latino and other minority voters.

"The immigration issue is a gateway issue for Hispanics, no doubt about it,” he said. “No matter what your stance is on a number of other issues, if people somehow come to believe that you don't like them or want them here, it's difficult to get them to listen to anything else."

Filed under: Immigration • Marco Rubio
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. F.Daniel Gray

    People who post about, "rounding up" the estimated 12 million "illegals," are delusional, simplistic, and ill informed. And, if they believe so much, for example, in the Second Amendment, they should, The fourteenth. which provides for the citizenship of persons born in the US.
    For starters, the US is not fascist Germany. In addition, there are blue-eyed/blonds/Mid Easterners/Asians, etc. who fall under that category. There are people who will assist them. The courts could/would be overwhelmed with a series of legal petitions. Where would the persons be housed, while awaiting legal decisions. In other words, a strategic and logistic operational nightmare.

    It is corporate America who enticed that particular immigration, and the ensuing benefits (i.e., more profit) which have accrued. We have all participated in the events. Even looking the other way, when the symptoms began to show. It didn't happen overnight. the horse has been "out of the barn," for decades."

    January 13, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. John Illinois

    Lets look at a real number that illegal alien criminals cost the legal American taxpayer. This number is extremely low too. Assume and illegal has one child born in one of our hospitals with an average cost of $8000.00. Multiply this by 10 million illegals and you get $800,000,000,000. Since common sense tells you these numbers are extremely low, look how much they cost us? An the fool in the White House and you liberals want to give them backdoor amnesty and think they are not bankrupting us!?!?!? When are they going to pay us taxpayers back for all that they cost us? No amnesty....Go back where you came from and pay us back for all that you sponged.

    January 13, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. inderpal singh

    mr rubio your idea will not apply on those who allready their
    you idea will apply after the comperhansive reform, the presedent signing into law. you can make new law from to day not apply to 20 year ago.mostly law apply backward this time donot insist to apply backward .if it continousely apply back dates the day is not too far when apply on you too and your family
    think again before statements
    this united state mean everybody have equal right ,and justice for all

    January 13, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    As soon as the president agrees with this liar, he'll suddenly want no part of HIS plan. Hispanics would be wise to leave the republicans alone, as they could care less about helping them . They only want their (token) votes.

    January 13, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Tony

    We need to modernize Congress. If Congress does not pass a budget or refuse to let the government pay its bills, which is what happens when there is a government default, Congress does not get paid and does not get government-paid insurance.

    January 13, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Dave Francis

    It don’t matter which group of politicians you hang out with, as the cost for another Path to Citizenship is prohibitive for all Americans. With Obama pushing even more taxes, he wants another Amnesty and hundreds of billions of people throughout the world is avidly listening? The unconstructive word is going out and all these uncountable numbers of foreign nationals are going to sweep down on the poorly guarded borders of Mexico and Canada. Then with this well publicized scenario that entries as a tourist is not tracked, a good course of action will bring unfettered numbers of visitors to our door, that are of no mind to return home. Another multi-trillion dollar amnesty is a catastrophe waiting to happen, so says the Heritage Foundation. Have you noticed that you already paying for every smuggled child of illegal aliens, who have reached sovereign America? The “Anchor Baby” is the real thing, as once settled here under a fabricated misuse law, they get automatic citizenship and YOU PAY, and YOU KEEP PAYING from delivery to grave. Their parents have that foothold and are able to collect every citizen benefit, without even spending one penny. No wonder Medicade is out the window in entitlements that should be going to citizens, real citizens.

    Two laws could send illegal aliens packing and you can read about the Legal Workforce Bill, which detects illegal aliens stealing jobs from Americans Mandatory E-Verify is the way to go and it enforces strict regulations on unconcerned business owners. The Birthright Citizenship Bill will stop children of millions of illegal aliens from legal theft of citizenship, thus discouraging the never ending stream of illegal aliens arriving here. These people disrespect our laws and come here to pilfer citizen’s rights. It can be guaranteed that if you read about passing these two laws, our government could save hundreds of billions of dollars each year, which would certainly help to relieve the pressure on the amount of money being spent on entitlements on foreign nationals. Don’t listen to the ravings of the open border zealots, who have infiltrated the Obama Administration. In addition ignore what you read in the national press, as they are tainted with the Liberal Progressives, who think America should have an open door policy with no borders. Investigate your States costs and the federal government and then contact your Congressman and those in Congress and stop this invasion for good?

    January 13, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. penguin

    Our immigration system is broken. There are many illegal immigrants because the only way to get in legally takes years to be processed. When my ancestors came over after WW11, they just hopped on a boat, crossed they ocean, and immediately processed in.

    January 13, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Roger

    There are two aspects to immigration – 1) why isnt there as much interest in legal immigration as it is in illegals? Make legalized immigration process smoother and people will be happy to pay their dues legally and enter the country. If you go to any negotiation class, the first rule taught is agree on the positives – if we keep talking about illegals, who is really paying attention to the legals who are sweating their a*** off for infinite years and yet there is not reprieve. 2) If we are so worried about the fruit plucking, meat processing, and maid service, as someone mentioned, create a class of visa to bring them on a temporary basis without the need for having those employers struggle with costs. We want it cheap but wont pay the price!

    You must be thinking, I am an immigrant in a legal status. Yes, I am and have been paying taxes for the past 14 years. Yes, when people from other countries get their visas in 2 months, it feels horrible. If you dont agree with me, try going to another country like Canada or UK, without using your US citizenship and you will understand.

    January 13, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. Victoria Ledesma

    How about someone can't just come to the US pop out a baby and it's automatically a citizen? "under the jurisdiction", has been taken completely out of context. It should be 1 or the other parents has to be a US citizen for their kid to be born one. And most illegals don't want citizenship, that want their welfare. Cut off the welfare to illegals and most will go back on their own.

    January 13, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    does the goverment know that this country has too many illegals than they know? all they talk about is the undocumened. what about those who came on visitors and students visas and are still here commiting all sorts of crimes? remember,you are dealing with people from all over the world and sooner you will give your country to the dogs.

    January 13, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. penguin

    Most immigrants don't want welfare, they want to work. My very caucasion son played soccer with a migrant soccer league in the upper midwest. His Mexican teammates had jobs and drove Chevys and Fords. One of his teammates worked here for several years away from his wife and son until he earned enough money to move back to Mexico (which he did). My experience with migrant workers convinced me that a lot of them are hard working with family values.

    January 13, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Jeremias

    Republicans should take a lesson from Clinton and use triangulation to gain the Hispanic vote

    January 13, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. Pete

    Watch what comes out of Rubios mouth,he's dangerous..He ran on the lie his family escaped the Castro regime but actually came here some years before Castro was even known but that's republicans trying to ride a trail of emotion like he did to get elected..Immigration should be handled properly ,not the he said ,she said crap heard by racist republicans who've railed against anything to do with foriegners or immigration..They forget most of their forefathers,mothers came from foriegn lands and came in a more hardened time when hatred was more rampent and open with people not scared telling new comers what they thought...If new immigrents have something good,different to contribute than fine but quit coming over undercutting Americans pay to get a job,many Americans have lost jobs just that way and its aggravating as well as unamerican..Most foriegn countries like Germany and England won't accept you unless your trade or profession is needed,they been burned as us but have now learned not to accept some people to curb job loses to their own countrymen...This should be the same here because with jobs going overseas and now immigrents working cheaper than ever before people here the real Americans can't even get a meanial job for just that reason,immigrents work harder ,cheaper and don't complain plus not giving them any benefits is always a plus for most employers..So before hiring think of yourself in their position ,it might be you someday!!

    January 13, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    The guy should stick to playing point guard for the timber wolves. I crack myself up!

    January 13, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. Wisdom

    Illegal aliens kill 25 Americans daily. Do we really need to legalize these criminals ?


    @ David, how the heck do you come up with numbers like this? Who crunches your numbers? Its about time we resort to some objective analysis instead of unrealistic emotional partisan responses to important issues that confront our country!!!

    January 13, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Mike

    OkMarco Rubio has no merit. In his own state Hispanics dislike him. because of his two sidedness, kinda like romney. Says one thing than says it wasnt.

    Plus if you google him you can find he is a very corrupted official who has been shamed on in the hispanic tv network Univision by their greatest talent for being a two face butt hole against the hispanic community.

    And he wants to run for president.

    Were not in the 60's no more. Sorry.

    Rubio means blondie in english. Which iss his true color inside.

    January 13, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  17. larry5

    If Obama does not agree any other plans are a non-starter.

    January 13, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. 1gandydancer

    "When someone is [undocumented] they're vulnerable to being exploited."

    That's what you quote from Kaminski's WSJ article. It's hard to believe Rubio was so un-PC as to use the I-word, but also hard to see what else fits. Doing an Advanced Google on the preceeding and following phrases with exclusion of "undocumented" turns up nada. What's the secret word?

    January 13, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  19. 1gandydancer

    @penguin: Are you saying that "anchor babies" aren't a real phenomenon, or what?

    January 13, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  20. Steve

    Mr Rubio,
    Let's trade background checks for our neighbors for background checks for all gun purchases. Then, speaking of coming forward, let's bring everyone out of the shadows of our history and talk about who we are as a nation of immigrants. While we are relitigating the past and dehumanizing folks, let's assign a fine for all US citizens based on their ancestoral race (present is integrated with the past) that continue to benefit from slavery, native american slaughter and the acquisition of mexican territory. We could pursue massive land swaps and reparation to level the playing field and then maybe we could move forward as one nation. Then let's document wages earned for the friends and family you have labeled so we can collect back taxes from both the employee and employer. Then, after you massive tax increase that you so often decry, let's spend a bunch of money you claim we don't have to spend persecuted our neighbors and humiliating them by testing their english and "assimilating" them. Let's offer folks citizenship for all their contributions to america and the enriching effect they have on our communities, then openly embrace their legacy – the dreamers. They can respectably demonstrate their english skills proudly pledging allegiance to the american flag.

    Let's just do it. You call it amnesty, but really it's just a cover for your confusion and hypocrisy. I just frankly expected more from you. Somehow, I thought you had an independent and transcending perspective. I can only hope you prove me wrong over time. I don't usually post on these things, but your statements shocked and dissapointed at a level I didn't anticipate.

    January 13, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  21. jim

    Just send them all home, we do not want them here. My god, listen to the people.

    January 14, 2013 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  22. bcm

    Half of the people here are ignorant if your not a native american you somehow immigrated to this country one way or another so stop being ignorant and hating towards people that come to america to persue the american dream is that not what america is all about?? America is the land of oppurtinuty ! And for those that are saying immigrants are criminals every race has its criminals stop being ignorant. I know a lot of immingrants and they do pay taxes gather information before you say something that you don't know about don't just state it and make yourselves look stupid.

    January 14, 2013 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  23. ironman59

    What I haven't seen in the comments so far is the double standard from the right. When "W" wanted a "path to immigration" it was a wonderful thing. As soon as Obama took office it was "look at the immigration problem he hasn't fixed". Now that one of the "shining stars" of the gop is proposing something it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Simple fact is that from an economic standpoint we can't afford to deport everyone that isn't legal. I have come across many people that while they illegally crossed the border have been model citizens and tax paying indivuals. Yes, the work under a false SSN and none of that is an excuse. However, they have been willing to work at jobs you won't and the near majority want to earn their way, not be welfare cases.

    The overall process is broken and needs to be fixed. A big fat fence was never going to solve the problem until the current people in the country have a solution. What I don't want to hear is the gop & far right screaming how great of a plan this is when they said it was the worst thing in the world when it came from Democrats. This is more than anything about protecting businesses who are profitable because they pay under the table or minimum wage knowing they can get away with it.

    January 14, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
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