Rubio, pitching immigration plan to conservatives, identifies potential sticking points
January 29th, 2013
02:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Rubio, pitching immigration plan to conservatives, identifies potential sticking points

Washington (CNN) – Tightened border security and law enforcement “mechanisms” could threaten to scuttle Washington’s latest plan to reform immigration laws.

At least that’s the word from a lawmaker who helped create the plan.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican whose 2010 candidacy was boosted by support from tea party activists, told right-leaning radio host Rush Limbaugh that any plan earning his backing must contain robust measures securing the border, along with tough penalties for breaking the law, as a precursor to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

"We need border security, we need workplace enforcement, we need a visa tracking system," Rubio said, adding later that "if there is not language in this bill that guarantees that nothing else will happen unless these enforcement mechanisms are in place, I won't support it."

The framework unveiled Monday by the group of four Democratic and four Republican senators contained provisions for a "tough but fair" path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States, contingent upon bolstering the nation's border security. It also stipulated the establishment of an employment verification system that holds employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers.

However, at this point those details remain mere suggestions; the measure has not yet been drafted into legislative language, a process Rubio speculated could omit some of the important points he wants to see included.

"The security triggers – is it a cosmetic security trigger or is it a real enforcement trigger?" Rubio asked. "The language matters in that regard. We need to be involved in that discussion."

"The language has to reflect the intention," he continued. "There's a lot of work to be done here, and we're nowhere near the finish line. But outlining our principles is important because it takes away the ability of the other side to mischaracterize what we're for and what we're against."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney skirted a question Tuesday on whether specific benchmarks for border security should be tied to the rest of an immigration reform package, saying he wasn't in a position to negotiate details in public.

But he said the two sides have discussed the matter, and pointed to President Barack Obama's past record on securing the border, which Carney called "the most comprehensive border security program in history."

"When it comes to border security, A) this president's record is very strong already; and, B) he will make clear that as part of his approach to comprehensive immigration reform enhancing our border security needs to be included," Carney said.

Rubio, speaking Tuesday, said he wasn't confident that Obama's own immigration proposals would match his own.

"I know the president is going to take us in a direction that I would not be comfortable with, and I don't think is good for America," he said. "I'm just trying to do the best I can with what's already a tough situation. I pray it works out."

Despite the tough language on Obama, Rubio's appearance on Limbaugh's program, along with phone calls to a slate of other conservative talk shows Tuesday, also seemed designed to quell fears in the GOP that he and other Republican lawmakers were caving to liberal demands on immigration.

"I know this is a tough issue. I do," he said. "I know why people are uncomfortable about it. It doesn't feel right, in some instances, to allow people who came here undocumented to stay."

But Republicans must get involved in fixing the system, he argued, since Obama and Democrats were bound to offer their own plans in the president's second term. Ignoring immigration, or showing resistance to compromise, would isolate the GOP from the process – and from an important bloc of potential voters.

"I am confident, I really am, that given a fair chance I can convince most Americans, including Hispanic Americans, that limited government is better for them than big government," he said.

At least one conservative seemed somewhat convinced.

"What are you doing is admirable and noteworthy," Limbaugh, the conservative firebrand, said as the interview concluded. "You are recognizing reality. I'm just worried the president is trying to change reality."

Filed under: Immigration • Marco Rubio • Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Oh goodie, the anchor lying baby Cuban speaking about immigration Even the Cubans, at least this new generation, don't like him.

    January 29, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. RINO Bill

    C'mon Rubio, just admit it, you flip-flopped. Every Republican who backs this amnesty plan masquerading as an immigration plan is a flip-flopper.

    January 29, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    He sure quivered as he discussed it with King Rush. Had to get HIS approval first - not American citizens.

    January 29, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. kayla

    rubio should talk, after all, cubans have no idea what it is to be illegals, they come here and they automatic get citizenship, he should shut the hell up.

    January 29, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    So, Rubio communes with the grand poobah, Limbaugh. He cannot taken as a serious candidate for POTUS. If liberals needed any more proof the Limbaugh is one of the de facto leaders of the conservative movement in this country, then let this episode lay aside all doubts. Any Republican who wants to be POTUS must pass the muster with Limbaugh.

    January 29, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  6. Squigman

    It's a shame that the republicans just don't get the message. They alienate people of differing color, race, or religious beliefs. Then after suffering loss in elections a light comes on, and they start the process of inclusion. They're motives are always at the forefront of their actions, and they seem to be upfront about the situation. They are afraid that the hate based platforms have caused them elections, so they start to knock down the walls that separate, and start building bridges. One big problem exists. They are doing this to gain power, not become leaders, but to gain power. Then it will all go back to normal. Be afraid, very afraid. Human predators, are just as disgusting as human scavengers.

    January 29, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    Everyone keeps LYING about Obama's border security.

    We have a lawsuit against him going forward, by Border Patrol Agents, who accuse him of preventing them from doing their JOBS!

    How much clearer can it BE, that Obama is doing NOTHING about border security, whatsoever?

    January 29, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    -Rick McDaniel

    Everyone keeps LYING about Obama's border security.

    We have a lawsuit against him going forward, by Border Patrol Agents, who accuse him of preventing them from doing their JOBS!

    How much clearer can it BE, that Obama is doing NOTHING about border security, whatsoever?
    Clear as mud.

    So, based on your logic, if I file a lawsuit against FOX News accusing them of twisting the truth, that my lawsuit alone is proof of FOX lying? NO proof, as usual.

    January 29, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. GuestAgain

    Rick – Good effort but the dems dont see facts. At least lets get a budget and some fiscal security in place before we blow it up for illegals. Shouldnt American citizens come first? Silly me....

    January 29, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. kayla

    i wonder what the native american indians ancestors would be saying if they were here .imagine fighting for land that they took from them

    January 29, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Well man,
    I'm from Missouri. You have to show me. Whatta ya bet thei plan goes up in smoke. You can't sell it to the American People. To all illegals. If you want to become a citizen go back to your own country and get in line. That's the only path there is. Maybe the people that are supporting you will help you out. Ask!

    January 29, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. Yonni

    He paid pilgrimage to Rush Limbaugh this afternoon to get his blessing I gues he will be ok

    January 29, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "It's a shame that the republicans just don't get the message."

    Too much Lush Rimbaugh ... or do I mean Rush Limbaugh? Either way, GOPers spend way too much time listening to him hate on America.

    January 29, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel wrote:

    Everyone keeps LYING about Obama's border security. .... ....
    No, only the people in the right wing media machine keep lying about the border security. They take advantege of the fact that some of the "out of control spending" by the administration has been a near doubling of the number of agents on the borders from 2008 levels.

    The rest of what you wrote is another conspiracy theory that only exists in the right wing blogosphere. People file politically tactical lawsuits demanding wild and crazy stuff all of the time, just to draw attention to manufactured False and Frivilous.

    January 29, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    So, essentially, the GOP/Teatrolls want to hand over the control of whether people are allowed a path to citizenship to the governors of border them the ability to shut it off via complaiing that border security isn't satisfactory as far as they are concerned. Watch. This will be their kill switch that they think will allow them to claim they enacted (and even saved the day) on immigration reform, without having to actually allow people to become citizens. It will be their game to get the "border security" measures part of it while using the border security measures as the block for everything else.

    January 29, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Name lynn

    well rubio whats your problem, its not obama its the republicans an them white house leaders is crazy.

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. NameChi

    Rubio is a Joke!!!

    January 29, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. RF

    This is simply hideous! Appalling! Absolutely unthinkable when there are still millions of LEGAL US citizens out of work!

    January 29, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Jim Hahn

    How on earth is Limbaugh recognizing "reality". This man couldn't recognize reality if his life depended on it. Given the situation in the House, it's unlikely that a bill that will benefit Hispanics will actually pass, leaving the GOP as the guardians of Old White Men.

    January 29, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |