Later Tuesday, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.
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.
Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty over 10 years for the nearly 11 million people here illegally before strengthening border enforcement.
“I believe at least half of my colleagues on this side of the aisle want to vote for an immigration bill … but only if they’re able to say we took steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Rubio said. “I think we can do that.
“I know it’s hard to do I, but I refuse to accept the idea that the most power country in the world — the country that put a man on the moon — is incapable of securing our border.”
Rubio said improvements to the bill need to be made through floor amendment, but also said too much time is being spent debating illegal immigration, when even the legal immigration system is broken.
“All the attention is being paid to illegal immigration, but issue number one — the fundamental reason we need immigration reform — is that our system is not built for the 21st century,” Rubio said. “We don’t have a merit based system, we have a family based system … but the world is so different now … and our immigration system has to reflect that.”
Sens. Rubio, 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.