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out elements of his proposal to reform the immigration system, which he pitches as much-needed modernization for the outdated system.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

    Rubio is correct in that it must be fixed, what he probably does not realize is that the vast majjority of those who come across the border illegally are NOT skilled, have little or no education, and are taking jobs that American citizens of all races did just a few years ago. Roofing, construction, concrete, roads bridges, fast food. They get paid daily, do not pay payroll or any other taxes. The 100's of thousands of unskilled American citizen workers are now on welfare because employers hire the illegals at lower wages and save their portion of the payroll tax. There are no jobs available for entry level high school young people., there are no part time jobs available to a high school kid in the summer time, there is simply no work experience available.

    January 12, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. David

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

    January 12, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. Dann

    I have no problem as long as the people who employed them also have to pay a fine, pay back Social Security taxes and do community service. They too broke the law and can be charged as co-conspirators.

    January 12, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Sara Lancaster

    Wow a politician with an actual good idea.

    January 12, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. ST

    It is all about politics. Why didn't he advise Romney to take action if at all Rubio was/is serious about immigrants?

    January 12, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Paulwisc

    Jim Logbeck, why is it that you believe Rubio doesn't realize what you think you know? You're just repeating what others have claimed, with no proof whatsoever. I'm pretty sure Rubio has a better grasp of actual facts, not far-right fantasies, than some anonymous internet poster.

    January 12, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. mike trout

    Before stating our immigration system is broken, it stands to reason the current laws should be enforced first. Lets evaluate and then decide if the system is broken. Yes, all systems can be improved upon. Comprehensive immigration means the demands of illegals are to be addressed. If we are a sovereign Nation, then we shouldn't concern ourselves with the demands of those who refuse to obey our laws. Perhaps we should implement Mexico's immigration system?

    January 12, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. NRA Life Member

    Illegal immigration is already down. Many illegals have already left the country. What Rubio is talking about is addressing the legacy of Reagan's amnesty program. This is nothing more than a political stunt to position Rubio for a presidential run. While articulate and with a compelling story if one doesn't dig too deep, Rubio is attempting to muscle his way to the top of a dysfunctional party who can't get elected without the Latino vote.

    January 12, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. Al Ford

    So the only way to deal with these law breakers is to reward them with the greatest gift on the planet? A path to American citizenship? Really? This is disgusting. These people are already citizens of another country, they should not be rewarded with the privilege of two citizenships when most Americans only have one.

    January 12, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. MacV

    Some decent ideas in there. I would add: No special treatment-wait your turn-and no possibility of citizenship if you crossed the bordee,no matter the age, illegally. The best one could hope for is Resident Legal Alien.

    January 12, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Rubio is trying to stay relevant telling people what he thinks they want to hear. You are wasting your time, golden boy.
    The Latino vote will never go your way. Idon't have an strong opinion inthe immigration debate never having had that problem. I just don't like shameless opportunists.

    January 12, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. TNPatriot

    Rubio could care less about the immigrants. He has the same feelings towards the Latinos as Romney does, but he thinks that this will help him draw the vote of that ignorant 47% that are the 'takers'. From the little bit he has released so far of this plan, he intends to screw unskilled American workers and provide a Pathway to exemption for right wing employers. An exemption from taking responsibility for their illegal actions, and guaranteeing them a free pass and a handout for more political 'payoffs' er I mean 'contributions'.

    January 12, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Elements of Rubio's plan will appeal to Democrats but will Tea Party and anit-immigrant Republicans support it? Don't count on it. The culture and make-up of the Republican Party has a long way to go.

    January 12, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. mikithinks

    The only way to a quick reduction in the number of illegal workers is to go after the employers.. The farm, construction company, the road builders, the food processors. While a lot of these jobs do not pay much there ARE citizens who will do them. I saw a peach farming area where immigrants were welcomed with open arms because they woul work for a few cents less than the college students that picked the fruit each summer. It also would create inspectors jobs to police the employers. Cost money? Sure, but not as much as all the cost of the benefits, education, and medical care.

    January 12, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. j bueno

    same guy who misspoke or lied about how and when his family got here from cuba to make it look more dramatic. freakin politations

    January 12, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. David Brockett

    Rubio made certain (like Rick Perry) that EVERIFY would never become law in Florida. He is an adolescent RINO trying to join the herd of other RINOS milling around our captol.

    January 12, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Leftcoastrocky

    Comprehensive Immigration Reform is needed IMO.

    (This is nothing more than a political stunt to position Rubio for a presidential run.)

    January 12, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  18. jeremy

    We need skilled workers not the trash that percolates through the porous southern border and ends up in slums taxing welfare system and contributing to crime. I will support the law that deports all illegal immigrants on welfare or with criminal records and increases quotas for work-based immigration.

    January 12, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. Dean

    Quit giving illegals food stamps, education and medical treatment.
    Fine the owner/CEO and head of personnel $10,000.00 for every illegal alien hired and after the second occurrence give them each 6 months in jail.
    Illegal immigration problem solved.

    January 12, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. Addison Bradford Williams, III

    Rubio: "They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service."
    With what? This just shows you how out of it our Congresspeople are! These people don't have money to pay fines and back taxes, they barely scrape by with their families. How about the people who employed them pay the back taxes and workman's comp etc? Rubio says Obama has done nothing which shows Rubio reads less than Sarah Palin!!

    January 12, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. JiminNM

    The Corporation simply wants documentation that is sufficient to be able to create a bond for each illegal and use that bond of the illegal as collateral for the Corporation debt just like they do when they force parents to generate a birth certificate and convert it to a bond for their newborn. Filthy fraudulent pieces of stuff.

    January 12, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  22. Lee Pham

    Here are some important statistics can prove Amnesty immigration reform is BAD for Republican Party. It is a LOST-LOST situation.

    The comparison of the election outcome between John McCain and Mitt Romney:

    John McCain was a strong proponent of comprehensive immigration reform “amnesty program”.
    In the 2008 Presidential election, McCain gained 45.7% of the popular vote and Obama gained 52.9% of the popular vote. Overall, the percentage difference between Obama and McCain is 7.2%.

    Mitt Romney is a hardliner on immigration.
    In the 2012 Presidential election, Mitt Romney gained 47.2% of the popular vote and Obama gained 51% of the popular vote. Overall, the percentage difference between Obama and Romney is only 3.8%.

    All of them, John McCain is a strong proponent of the “Amnesty Program”, but he lost much more than Romney to Obama in popular vote.


    January 12, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  23. Lee Pham

    If Mitt Romney does NOT take hardline position on immigration, he will LOSE much more to Obama LIKE John McCain.

    How many American citizens are out of work NOW? Rubio is CRAZY.

    January 12, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. DocHollywood

    Of course it's not "amnesty" if a republican proposes it. Everyone knows it's only "amnesty" if a democrat proposes it. Let's see how the tea partiers treat one of their own for pandering to minorities. Because that's what they always say democrats are doing.

    January 12, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  25. TOTO

    GOD BLESS YOU MARCO RUBIO! and your family too.

    January 12, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
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