Tags: rubio | border | deal | immigration

Sen. Rubio: Border Amendment Will Make 'Substantial Improvement' on Immigration Bill

Image: Sen. Rubio: Border Amendment Will Make 'Substantial Improvement' on Immigration Bill

By Paul Scicchitano   |   Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 11:23 PM

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that lawmakers in the upper chamber will release an amendment on Thursday that will provide a “substantial improvement” dealing with border security to the proposed immigration bill that has drawn increasing fire from conservatives.

“This is not about anti-immigrants or trying to be tough on anybody,” said Rubio, appearing on Fox’s “Hannity” program on Wednesday.

“We're a sovereign country and every sovereign country in the world has a right to protect its borders and who has access to the country,” explained Rubio, who is a member of the so-called “Gang of 8,” senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — who authored the bill.

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“Every country in the world does that. Why would we be expected not to do that?”

The Congressional Budget Office predicted on Tuesday that the measure would cut federal budget deficits over the long term and provide an overall boost to the economy.

Nevertheless, some conservatives have been critical that the measure does not go far enough in securing America’s borders from illegal immigrants. Earlier on Wednesday conservatives and tea party activists booed Rubio’s name at a six-hour rally on Capitol Hill.

Rubio declined to comment on the specifics of the border security amendment, even when host Sean Hannity confided that he was told by a “source in Washington” that the measure would double the number of agents, provide for the completion of a 700-mile fence border fence, and require that all technology issues be worked out before “there’s any legalization or path to a green card.”

While the first-term senator said he did not want to preempt Thursday’s announcement, he said that he and his Republican colleagues want to make sure that they do not leave border security up to the discretion of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

“We don't want to leave it to Janet Napolitano to design the border plan,” said Rubio, which is also the reason he gave for not supporting earlier border security measures.

“We want to put it specifically in the bill. That's one of the reasons quite frankly why I didn't support those amendments because I think what my Republican colleagues are going to produce tomorrow is going to be substantially better.”

CBO, the nonpartisan budget analyst for Congress, estimated that the immigration legislation would reduce deficits by $197 billion from 2014 to 2023 and by $700 billion from 2024 to 2033.

The estimate was in stark contrast with a forecast issued last month by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank that said that the bill would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion over the next half century.

Hannity pressed Rubio on how far he will take the issue of border security:

“If you're not convinced that the border will be secure so this problem is gone forever, is that a deal killer for you?”

Rubio replied, “It’s not worth doing the bill if that doesn't happen.”

He added that he would never have begun working on immigration reform without an understanding that the end result would adequately address border security.

“I think conservatives have a right to be skeptical about this. The federal government under both Republicans and Democrats in the past has failed to enforce our immigration laws,” asserted Rubio. “That’s why we have 11 million people here that are illegally here.”

Acknowledging criticism from fellow conservatives, Rubio insisted that he isn’t working on immigration for political gain.

“This is not something that's going to gain me any parades. People are frustrated. And I do understand it,” he said. “What I hope they understand is that I studied this issue carefully for almost two years. And I concluded that what we have in place right now is a disaster. It's hurting this country terribly.”

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He warned that if the U.S. fails to address immigration reform and border security “we’re going to leave in place a disaster — a de facto amnesty disaster — that's hurting our economy,” according to Rubio. “It’s hurting our sovereignty. It’s hurting our security.”

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