Rubio to immigration reform critics: 'Don’t just be against it, offer ideas'

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In two weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin to mark up S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration. The bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of eight senators, called the Gang of Eight, which includes Rubio.

Rubio, who is considered a possible GOP presidential candidate for 2016, said he didn’t choose to work on comprehensive immigration reform because he thought it would make him more popular.

“There is very little political benefit to this issue,” Rubio said. “[But] I tell my fellow Republicans, we’re not in the majority — I wish we were. But this issue is going to come to the floor with or without us. … That’s why I endeavored to get involved in this issue.”

After the committee marks up the bill, it’s expected to reach the Senate floor by June. Some Republicans, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), have complained that the bill was crafted in secret and that lawmakers haven’t had enough time to read the more than 800-page bill. 

The bill’s language was released last week and the first mark up hearing will be in two weeks, but Sessions said Thursday that he and his staff still haven’t been able to read through all of the “gobbledygook.”

Rubio said it would be more productive for critics to offer ideas on ways to improve the bill rather than just bashing it.

“If you think what we have is a disaster, then let’s work on it together to change it,” Rubio said. “I’m all ears, but let’s not leave it the way it is because it is chaos.”