Rubio defends immigration reform, says doing nothing is ‘amnesty’

Rubio and the other seven bipartisan members of the Gang of Eight introduced their comprehensive immigration reform plan on Tuesday, but an unveiling event was postponed until Thursday because of the Boston Marathon bombings.

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The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants already in the country illegally, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.

Rubio said S. 744, isn’t perfect, but that there will be plenty of time for senators to make changes and provide input during the committee and amendment process. He said the more than 800-page bill likely wouldn’t reach the Senate floor until next month.

Republicans, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), have complained that the Gang of Eight process was behind closed doors, and have expressed concerns that the bill would be rushed to the floor.

“One other criticism is that it’s being rushed through,” Rubio said. “That’s just not true. ... People are going to have three to four weeks to review it.”

On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin to look at the legislation.

Rubio said the bill requires border enforcement measures before any of the 11 million people within the United States illegally were given the opportunity to apply for a green cards.

Rubio and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Co.) comprise the Gang of Eight.