Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said a "flawed" premise was used in the Heritage Foundation's report on the immigration reform bill he is pushing, the Tampa Bay Times reports
The report, issued by the conservative think tank Monday, said that the bill will end up costing American taxpayers $6.3 trillion over the coming decades.
"Their argument is based on a single premise, which I think is flawed," Rubio said. "That is, these people are disproportionately poor because they have no education and they will be poor for the rest of their lives in the U.S."
Heritage's Jim DeMint and Robert Rector said in a press conference Monday that most illegal immigrants have a 10th-grade education and that even native-born citizens with less than high-school degrees are disproportionately larger recipients of government programs.
"Quite frankly, that’s not the immigration experience in the U.S.," Rubio said. "That’s certainly not my family’s experience in the U.S. The folks described in that report are my family. My mother and dad didn’t graduate high school and I would not say they were a burden on the United States."
Rubio's parents are Cuban immigrants who didn't graduate high school, he said. Still, they were far better off 25 years later than they were when they first arrived.
"And their children certainly have been. I still think we’re that country. And I still think we can be that country and even more in the future. So I guess I just have a lot more belief in the future of the country than some of the folks that helped prepare (the study)."
But Rubio, a friend of former Sen. DeMint, said the report did raise some valid concerns.
"We do want to address welfare benefits in the United States, the structure of the entitlement programs," he said. "But that’s not just true for immigrants; that’s true for everybody . . . I think the report, as much as anything else, is an argument for welfare reform and entitlement reform. Not necessarily an anti-illegal immigration reform study."
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