Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called details of President Obama's leaked immigration proposal "half-baked" on Saturday and predicted that the measure would be "dead on arrival in Congress."
Rubio, who is spending this week in the Middle East, was responding to a story published online Saturday by USA Today which revealed that the draft bill would allow illegal immigrants in the U.S. to apply for newly created "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visas. The bill would also provide more security funding and require that businesses verify the immigration status of new hires within four years, according to the report.
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“It’s a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress," Rubio said in a statement. "President Obama’s leaked immigration proposal is disappointing to those of us working on a serious solution. The president’s bill repeats the failures of past legislation.
"It fails to follow through on previously broken promises to secure our borders, creates a special pathway that puts those who broke our immigration laws at an advantage over those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally, and does nothing to address guest workers or future flow, which serious immigration experts agree is critical to preventing future influxes of illegal immigrants," Rubio explained.
President Obama has said he would send an immigration bill to Congress if lawmakers do not move on the issue "in a timely fashion." White House spokesman Clark Stevens said in a statement Saturday that a final immigration bill has not been prepared but that progress is being made.
“Much like the president’s self-described ‘stop gap’ Deferred Action measure last year, this legislation is half-baked and seriously flawed," Rubio asserted. "It would actually make our immigration problems worse, and would further undermine the American people’s confidence in Washington’s ability to enforce our immigration laws and reform our broken immigration system.
“If actually proposed, the President’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come,” Rubio added.
Rubio is planning to visit Jordan and Israel this week, just days after delivering the Republican response — in English and Spanish — to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
“America's friendship with Israel is a truly special one, and we must continue to do all we can to support this beacon of democracy, religious freedom and free enterprise in the heart of an unstable region,” Rubio blogged
The first-term senator is considered a rising star in the Republican Party and his name is frequently mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.
Rubio plans to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit, which ends on Friday. He also plans to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
"In Israel, I look forward to meeting with our embassy, military and intelligence personnel as well, followed by visits with Israeli political, defense, intelligence and business leaders," Rubio blogged. "I am especially looking forward to meeting with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss various areas of mutual interest, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. I also look forward to meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad."
Rubio says that the trip is part of his official duties as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees.
"As Iran continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, we must continue to apply pressure through every possible means in order to prevent a nuclear Iran," he said. "And I look forward to assessing the impact American security assistance is having and discussing the importance of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and how we can maintain it during this time of great uncertainty and tumult in Egypt."
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He praised America's relationship with Jordan and the country's role in fighting terrorism.
"In Jordan, I look forward to meeting with King Abdullah as well as other members of the Jordanian government, which remains among our most loyal allies in the region in trade, cultural exchanges and especially in combatting terrorism," he said. "I am also interested in learning more firsthand about the impact the Syrian civil war and how the humanitarian crisis that has resulted is impacting Jordan and the region."
In recent months, Rubio has taken the lead in steering the GOP’s efforts toward a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would give more than 12 million illegals currently in the United States legal status.
President Obama took 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in his recent re-election bid against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And Rubio is considered one of the GOP’s best hopes to increase the ranks of Hispanic voters.
Rubio, who is visiting Israel for the second time and Jordan for the first, is accompanied by his wife Jeanette. The senator stressed that he is not using taxpayer funds to pay for his wif'e's expenses.
"As is customary in each country I visit on official business, I will visit America's embassy to meet with the brave men and women stationed there from our foreign service, military and intelligence services and receive a country briefing from each," according to Rubio.
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