Rubio was responding to a question from a constituent on why the immigration bill can’t be dealt with in a piecemeal approach rather than a large comprehensive bill. Rubio said that because immigration reform is “complex,” a large bill is the best approach. He said that border enforcement and worker visas have to be dealt with at the same time because the issues are "interwoven."
The Senate is expected to begin floor debate on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act later this month.
The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced 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.
Sens. Rubio, John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R- Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Co.) comprise the Gang of Eight.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill out of committee last month on a bipartisan vote. Rubio said more work is needed to improve the legislation so it can pass in the House.
“There will have to be improvements,” Rubio said. “Because the good thing is the American people, the vast majority of them throughout the political spectrum, have clearly said that they are prepared to responsibly deal with those that are here illegally, but they are only willing to do so if we can take measures that ensure that this problem will never happen again in the future. And so, if we can make sure we put in place enforcement mechanisms and a guest worker program that ensures this will never happen again in the future, we’re going to have responsible immigration reform. And if we don’t have that, then we won’t have immigration reform.”
Some Republicans have complained that the legislation is being rushed through, and that it would provide amnesty for illegal residents before strengthening border enforcement enough.
House Republicans have said they will produce their own immigration reform bill, but that it would likely be passed in pieces rather than one large comprehensive bill.