Sen. Marco Rubio suggested Wednesday that comprehensive immigration reform may have to wait until President Barack Obama leaves office because many lawmakers have little faith in the administration's willingness to enforce new immigration laws.
The Florida Republican, one of the chief architects of the Senate bipartisan immigration overhaul bill passed last year, also told reporters there is an emerging consensus on key provisions of legislation but lawmakers are still divided over proposals for a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
"I don't know if it's going to happen this year; I don't know if it's going to happen with this administration," the freshman lawmaker said at a breakfast with reporters sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.
According to USA Today, Rubio said lawmakers will need to have confidence
that any agreement will include the adequate enforcement of tighter security and border controls. At the moment. he said the lack of faith in the administration is a "real impediment" to achieving reform.
"I think it's a fundamental challenge right now," he said.
The senator cited the IRS scandal, the Benghazi controversy, and decisions involving the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as issues which have contributed to the loss of trust required to push immigration reform forward.
In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Obama renewed his call for Congress to "fix our broken immigration system," noting at the same time the progress made by the Senate but the House's failure to take the Senate bill move forward.
"Let's get immigration reform done this year. Let's get it done. It's time," he declared.
House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner are preparing to unveil a major immigration initiative
this week, which is expected to include strengthening border security, creating new visas for foreign workers, and a process for achieving legalization, but not necessarily citizenship for undocumented immigrants
Rubio said that while it is better to put in place a system for immigrants to become citizens, he is willing to discuss the anticipated House proposal that would establish a better pathway to legalization, according to The Hill.
"Do I think it's in the best interest of this country to have millions of people here who can never become Americans? I don't," he said. But he added, "Is that better than the status quo? Yes."
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