Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Orrin Hatch of Utah together have come up with four amendments to the Senate immigration bill that would prevent immigrants with provisional legal status from gaining federal benefits
Rubio is a member of the Gang of Eight bipartisan group of senators that came up with the bill, and Hatch's support is considered crucial for getting the legislation passed.
The amendments, announced Wednesday, would
• ban welfare payments for non-citizens;
• strengthen requirements that immigrants applying for legal status must prove they have paid all their taxes for the time they have been in this country;
• require immigrants who have achieved permanent legal residency to wait five years after doing so to receive tax benefits available through the Affordable Care Act;
• deny immigrants unauthorized to work legally the right to claim Social Security coverage.
"The vast majority of immigrants who come to America, whether legally or not, come in search of a chance at a better life, not to become dependent on government," Rubio said in a statement.
"The purpose of this immigration bill cannot and should not be to provide as many immigrants as possible with as many government benefits as possible."
As for Hatch, "What we are talking about is a basic fairness that those wanting to become American citizens have to play by the rules, just as Americans do today," he said in a statement
"Who can argue against ensuring that these immigrants pay their back taxes, or that they don’t have the right to immediate government benefits? . . . The overwhelming majority of those that have come to our shores come not in search of a handout from American taxpayers, but rather in search of creating a stronger foundation for themselves and the generations who will come after them."
Meanwhile, Rubio said Thursday that he will withdraw his support for the immigration bill if a gay rights amendment introduced Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is approved. The amendment would allow gay U.S. citizens to request permanent resident status for their foreign spouses
"If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I'm done," Rubio said on the Andrea Tantaros Show
. "I'm off it, and I've said that repeatedly. I don't think that's going to happen, and it shouldn't happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is."
In an interview with Newsmax TV
last week, Rubio said he is determined to succeed on immigration reform.
"The broken legal immigration system that we have now is hurting America now very badly," he said. "We are educating the world's best scientists and then we are asking them to leave our country and go compete against us. These things make no sense."
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