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out elements of his proposal to reform the immigration system, which he pitches as much-needed modernization for the outdated system.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. Malory Archer

    Unless he agrees to apply the same standards to Cubans he has no credibility.

    January 12, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. FOX NEWS: The dung beetle of journalism.

    Sounds reasonable, but just because he claims it is not "blanket amnesty" does not mean his bagger buddies will agree.

    January 12, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. dave

    "...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." Ah, the problems of the GOP. Victimized by their own beliefs. How sad.

    January 12, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. John N Florida

    Marco is gonna screw up and lose his Tea Party backing. He didn't even get 50% of the vote as it was. He goes 'Off the Reservation' with Immigration, and that could cost him half of that vote.

    January 12, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. CryBabies

    The President won't work on this...he was only interested in what would bring him votes. Tough love to this situation will never happen under this administration.... the easy way out promotes BO progressive agenda. "Fool" that he is.

    January 12, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. don

    These Illegals will not pay a fine or do community work for nothing. And they do NOT deserve to become citizens when we have enough people in this country out of work already. You need to contact your congress people.

    January 12, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. don

    Rubio has got to go, who the hell does he think he is. The TP voted him in not to give amnesty to illegal people in this country

    January 12, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Dave

    "...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."

    Is it possible that Hispanics have "somehow come to believe" this because a significant portion of the GOP consists of vocal bigots who hate EVERYONE darker than Carrot Top? How Rubio can possibly be so deluded as to belong to the Republican party amazes me. He and Navarette must be the two biggest suckers on the planet.

    January 12, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. wigglwagon

    Rubio is just a self centered, opportunist politician. America does not need more WORKERS of any kind. His only interest is in providing his corporate sponsors with cheap labor.

    January 12, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Squigman

    Here's an Idea. Deport yourself. We'd be better off without this crap on a daily basis.

    January 12, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    We already have a path to citizenship... these criminals need to go back to their decrepit countries and apply for immigrant visas, just like the rest of the world.

    January 12, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. M-W-T

    This from a guy who lied about his parents when they came here
    He's a republican, and I don't TRUST him, it will be quite a while before We TRUST any republican again

    January 12, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. Wilson

    Why Sen Rubio does not plea to give to modern immigrants the same treatment was given his father? He will not win the Hispanic hearts when he still to cater to tea party. Period! Also, his wife said in the past, on Hispanic news, that all illegal immigrants were criminals. Did they change they mind?

    January 12, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. taxedmore

    Legal status – does that mean they would be eligible for food stamps, WIC (and 13 other food giveaway programs), the many versions of subsidized housing, SSI, TANF, Medicaid, free emergency room visits, free cell phones, etc....
    We already have 30 million people getting a free ride on the backs of those who actually have to pay income taxes.
    And don't tell me they will be income paying taxes, they have so many kids they will be getting EITC and Child Tax Credits and will get back a lot more than they pay in. Most will get a huge bonus at tax time. The American taxpayers do not need more burdens.
    The other part of the issue is about breaking the existing laws of this country just because those laws are not convenient for them. Is becoming legal also a pathway to their getting an "OK" to break other laws that are not convenient for them?

    January 12, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Yoshi Togukawa

    Rubio: Are you sure you are a Republican?

    January 12, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. Ed1

    There are not any Countries in the world that would allow people to come into their country illegally and be allowed to stay.

    The people that came into this Country should obey the laws and come in thru the front door like all the people have done in the past no special treatment just follow the law. When you break the law then you should be deported back to the Country you came from and try the front door period.

    Either give the States the right to enforce the Federal laws or start enforcing them by our own Federal law officials.

    You want to change the laws then that should go thru the proper channels and not the President. Obama was elected to uphold the laws not pick and chose which laws he wants to enforce.

    January 12, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Rosslaw

    I've never seen his birth certificate. I think he's a long term sleeper agent for Castro. And he hates Hispanics. He should finish his draft alternative plan to the Dream Act about the same time the republicans reveal the tax loopholes and deductions they keep insisting will help eliminate the deficit.

    January 12, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Donkey Party

    Next to Al Queyda, the Taliban, the KKK and the Nazis, the GOP is just another promoter of hate.

    January 12, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. maxmaxwell

    rubio go back to cleaning pools, it suits you better.

    January 12, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. Anu sunaard

    If i clean could i working there please i need a job please

    January 12, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. JLP

    As described,this does nothing to fix the immigration policy that is currently in place, or Border enforcement. It just sounds like Reagan Amnesty by another name.

    January 12, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  22. amy

    No way. There are thousands of people doing it the right and legal way, so should the people who come to this country illegal. No excuses.
    Go back to your native country and start the paper work like you should LEGAL. Those born here to illegal parents, too bad your parents broke the law, go back to your parents country and start the paper work the legal way to come to this country legally.

    January 12, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. judy

    oh brother . This clown really wants to be president. And maybe the president won't work with him. Do you really believe he cares ????

    January 12, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. BobMD

    I agree, the idea of open immigration and letting people in no questions asked is outdated. We need to greatly restrict immigration and only allow highly skilled immigrants or investors with large amounts of money, like every other country in the world does.

    January 12, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. Robert Warner

    Spread it any way you want, everyone now knows that the Republican Party is a refuge for old, white bigots. Whenever your party is given power, they use it to the detriment of all who are not rich and white. The sugar you sell during a campaign turns to vinegar once your party gains power.

    January 12, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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