Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Sunday that the 2013 immigration reform bill to be introduced this week will make it harder, longer and more expensive for the millions of immigrants living illegally in America to achieve legal status.
Rubio, a key player in drafting the immigration reform bill, made the rounds of several Sunday talk shows. He said on ABC’s “This Week” that the bill would make the process so difficult to navigate it would be much cheaper for undocumented immigrants to return home and follow the legal process.
The latest immigration reform news is that the Gang of Eight -- the four senators from each party working on the reform bill -- is expected to release the measure early this week.
“We are not rewarding anything,” Rubio said on the Sunday show. “All we are giving people the opportunity to eventually do is getting access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that will be available to everybody else.”
But achieving that legal status is not easy. Under the expected Gang of Eight proposal, undocumented immigrants will be required to pass what has been described as a “rigorous background check.” They will also be required to pay any outstanding fines and other application fees in order to get a work permit. That’s in addition to paying back taxes, and they won't be immediately eligible for federal benefits. Then after 10 years, those immigrants will be afforded the chance to apply for permanent residency.
In exchange for providing a path to citizenship for the undocumented, Rubio said lawmakers will be implementing “some of the toughest enforcement measures in the history of this country.”
“We are going to secure the border to the extent that’s possible,” he said. “We are going to have entry and exit systems that track visas, because 40 percent of our illegal immigrants are people that entered legally and overstayed. We are going to have e-verify universally, which means you will not be able to find a job in the United States if you are not legally here.”
Bring Them Out So We Know Who To Put Out
The Cuban-American senator and much-touted possible 2016 presidential candidate added that to do nothing about the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally is to give them “de facto amnesty.”
Rubio said he wants to freeze the problem in order to prevent it from becoming worse.
“We don’t want to rush on the border,” Rubio said. “We don’t want people to think, ‘Well, they are still doing this enforcement stuff, and at some point in a few years we are actually going to start some process, so let me sneak in now and take advantage of it.’ We don’t want that either. What I want is to freeze the problem that’s in place.
“What I am saying is let’s bring these people out so we can figure out who needs to leave and who we are going to give a chance to earn their way toward one day being able to apply for a green card the same way everybody else does, and I think that’s why it's the better approach,” Rubio said.
On the same program, Rubio's fellow Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, disputed his assurances about the bill.
"They have produced legislation, it appears -- although it looks like now it may be another week before we see it, that will give amnesty now, legalize everyone that's here effectively today and then there's a promise of enforcement in the future," he said.
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...