Sen. Marco Rubio tells Newsmax that the bipartisan immigration reform bill he has been instrumental in crafting will “fundamentally redefine” America’s immigration system.
The bill is essential, the first-term Florida Republican adds, because the present immigration system is “broken” and the status quo is “not an option.”
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The bill would reportedly put the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally on a 13-year path to U.S. citizenship that would cost each $2,000 in fines plus additional fees, and would begin only after steps have been taken to secure the border.
Senators had planned to formally introduce the bill Tuesday, but after Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon a planned press event was delayed until later in the week.
“What was going to happen is we were going to introduce it on Tuesday, and then there was going to be a hearing, the first hearing on Wednesday,” Sen. Rubio said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.
“They’ve now delayed that until Friday to give people more time to read it, and we’re doing a lot of work individually with members’ offices to walk them through the particulars of it and then there’ll be a second hearing next week. Then three weeks will go by before they actually have to start filing amendments.
“So people are going to have close to a month to review this thing. It’s going to be posted online, it’s going to be publicly available, and it’s a very good piece of legislation to solve a very serious problem that our country faces.”
The mood in Congress has turned strongly in favor of serious immigration reform, according to Rubio.
“There have been a lot of hearings about immigration around here in the past but this is no longer hearings about immigration. This is hearings about an immigration bill that is going to fundamentally redefine and modernize our legal immigration system,” he says.
“There are enforcement mechanisms that are in place that we need to get answers to. For example, we set aside some money for border security but we don’t know if that exact number is the right amount. It’s kind of a place holder, we don’t know if it’s enough or too much. Then certainly there is the process for how we’re going to handle those who have violated our immigration laws, and that should be reviewed as well.
“There should be an open process. It shouldn’t take forever, but it should certainly take enough time and it shouldn’t be rushed to the floor. Everyone should have a chance to read it, have an opinion on it, and make changes that improve it.”
When full details of the legislation are revealed, “people will be surprised at how much reform there is in the legal immigration system,” Rubio says.
“For example, one of the things we targeted was chain migration. We’ve redefined the family category so that many of the ways that people are now using to bring extended families here are going to be more difficult in the future, and frankly, impossible.
“We streamlined the system so it’s a lot less bureaucratic, a lot less complicated, a lot easier to follow. One of the things that’s contributed to illegal immigration is that legal immigration is so complicated and so burdensome, and we’re going to modernize the system in a way that’s pro-business, pro-economy.”
As for some more specifics, Rubio tells Newsmax: “First of all the application process will be a one-stop shop, especially on the guest worker program and things of that nature. Agriculture in particular will be helped by that.
“In addition to that we’ve gotten rid of the per country quota, one of the things that didn’t make a lot of sense. We should be able to attract the best and brightest in the world irrespective of what country they’re coming from.
“The majority of this bill is about enforcement and about modernization, and I would say 80, 90 percent of this bill is probably not that controversial. The piece that probably is is what we’re doing with those who have violated our immigration laws.”
Under the bipartisan bill, illegal immigrants “are allowed to stay in this country. They’re here right now and you’re not going to deport them. That’s my point. So the question that we have is not whether we want them in the country or not, the question is whether we want them in the country knowing who they are, having them paying taxes, or do we want them in the country the way they are now where many of them don’t pay taxes, we don’t know who they are, and they’ll be here for the rest of their lives.
“We’re not talking about bringing 11 million people to the U.S. These are people that are here. Some of them have been here for two decades. So I just don’t think it’s a valid point in terms of saying that leaving the status quo is something that’s an option. It’s not an option.”
Asked if the bill will have an easier time passing the Senate than the House, Rubio responds: “The House is working on its own product and I don’t know too much about it other than that they’re similar. Obviously they probably have some significant differences that still have to be worked through, but the bottom line is in the House and the Senate there’s a bipartisan recognition that immigration is a problem in the U.S. We have a broken legal immigration system, we’re not enforcing our laws, and we have millions of people here illegally. We have to deal with all three of those things and I hope this is the year that happens because the status quo is really bad for America.”
Rubio also offers his views on the election in Venezuela, where it appears that Nicolas Maduro won — and he has a close relationship with Cuba.
“First of all, it’s an undemocratic election in the sense that the government actually dominates the airwaves. Imagine a U.S. election where the Democratic Party – because that’s who’s in power now in the White House – basically controls all the advertising, all the airwaves, and the other side isn’t allowed to advertise at all. That’s what the Venezuelan elections were like.
“Despite that and despite accusations of fraud and things that are going on that I hope will be investigated, the margin was very, very narrow, which shows you the Venezuelan people are looking for a new direction.
“Ultimately, the future of Venezuela belongs to the people of that country, not to us. I just hope they choose a new direction because Venezuela is a country with so much potential and it’s largely fallen into the hands of leaders that are clowns who align themselves with some of the worst elements in the world, have squandered the riches of that country, have allowed the Cubans to basically come and take over their country. It’s an outrage.
“The best thing we can do is help the people of Venezuela understand that if their leaders are reasonable people, we want to have a good relationship with them. We have nothing against the Venezuelan people. We would love to have a positive relationship with Venezuela but if their leaders are irrational people, people that align themselves with Muammar Qaddafi and some of the worst killers in the world, then it’s going to be very difficult to have that kind of relationship.”
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