Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke to Breitbart News at length on Tuesday following the passage of the cloture vote for the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill in the upper chamber.
Breitbart News: The bill would allow most of the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship within 13 years, but conservatives argue that Democrats are likely to find a way to attempt to dismiss the 13-year time span entirely if the bill is passed, and grant amnesty sooner rather than later. Your thoughts?
Rubio: Well there’s no right to illegally immigrate to the United States. Second of all, we have existing restrictions on that now.
Breitbart News: But isn’t there concern that the courts can simply overturn the 13-year time span?Rubio: Again, I don’t think there is any standing to overturn it. They can overturn any law we pass, I suppose. The question is, on what constitutional grounds? There’s no constitutional right to immigrate to the United States. That’s a privilege that we create via law and in terms of the process in which we do it. There’s no right to immigrate here and there’s certainly no right to immigrate here illegally. The U.S. government has a right to impose restrictions and penalties for those who violate the law.
Breitbart News: Do you have any regrets about going into the immigration issue, considering the response from the conservative grass roots? Do have concerns about your own future?
Rubio: Well first of all, I’d like to argue to you that there has been some people who don’t like what we’re doing. I hope in the future we’ll be able to work on the things we agree on which is almost everything else. But I would also argue that there are a lot of people who understand why we’re doing it. But more importantly, I got involved because I wanted to solve big problems. And this is a big problem for the country.
As I said earlier today, even if we didn’t have any illegal immigration, we’d have to reform our legal immigration system and we’re doing that. We have to fix the way we enforce the law, because the way we’re doing it now, it’s not being enforced effectively because the systems we have in place doesn’t work. So at the end of the day I got involved in a major issue because I thought I could have a positive impact and I still do.
Breitbart News: Why not start small then? Why not just reform the green card system first?
Rubio: Because in the interim you’re going to have de-facto amnesty left in place, which is 11 million people who are here illegally who are never going to leave. There’s no way for them to leave. Most have been here longer than a decade and leaving them in place is not good for the country.
Breitbart News: After the 1986 amnesty bill, though, California became a lost cause for the GOP.Rubio: That’s a different equation. In 1986 they promised border security and preventing another wave of illegal immigration, but they didn’t put anything in the law that would actually make sure it wouldn’t happen.
Breitbart News: As they are doing now, correct?Rubio: No. Actually the law actually requires e-verify be fully implemented. It requires the transit tracking system be fully implemented and we’re going to work to make that even better. I think that’s the lynch pin to the whole bill.
Breitbart News: People are hearing the same thing [they heard in 1986].
Rubio: One of the things that’s standing in the way of this passing if we can’t convince people of what we’re gong to do here will actually prevent the same thing from happening. That’s why I put so much emphasis on the border security aspects of the bill and why they need to be improved and why we need to go further than we have already. That’s why I spend so much time telling people who will listen to me that if we don’t do that, this isn’t going to pass.
The cloture vote on the immigration bill passed in the Senate 82 to 15, with the majority of Republicans joining Democrats to support the measure. Despite opposition from conservatives, many believe the bill will pass the Senate easily. However, the bill in its current form is unlikely to have as much support from Republicans on the House side.