Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday that he is “increasingly alarmed” at the president’s plans for an executive action that would grant amnesty to upwards of 5 to 6 million illegal aliens.
Rubio begins his letter to Obama by noting how he had, last year, joined the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” but has since learned that such a comprehensive pathway forward on immigration is not possible due to Americans’ deep distrust of the federal government when it comes to immigration and other matters.
“It was my hope that Senate action on this matter could serve as a catalyst for a humane but responsible reform that could ultimately achieve bicameral, bipartisan support. Instead, it led to the stalemate we now face on this issue,” Rubio wrote. “After the experience of the last 18 months, I have become convinced that there is no realistic path forward on comprehensive reform for the foreseeable future. Instead, it is clear to me now that the only approach that has any chance of success is one that addresses our immigration problems in a series of sequential pieces of legislation.”
Rubio said the first component of any immigration solution must stop illegal immigration. “The last year has made clear to me that many of my colleagues, and the millions of Americans they represent, are understandably unwilling to address the fact that we have over 12 million human beings in America in violation of our immigration laws, until we first do something to ensure that our immigration laws will not continue to be ignored,” Rubio said. “The second component of this sequential reform would be a modernization of our legal immigration system. This would move us toward a merit-based system of immigration and provide a measured, predictable, reliable and legal flow of temporary workers, especially in agriculture.”
Rubio wrote that if the government can modernize legal immigration and stop illegal immigration, “then the American people and a majority of their representatives in Congress would be willing to reasonably and responsibly address the issue of millions of people currently in this nation illegally.”
“It will not be easy. And it will not be unanimous. But if we can make real progress on stemming the tide of illegal immigration, I am convinced we will have the support necessary to address this serious issue once and for all,” Rubio wrote.
But it’s for the same reasons, Rubio wrote, that he is worried President Obama’s planned executive actions may poison the well.
“All of this is why I have grown increasingly alarmed by news that your administration is considering sweeping executive action to give work permits to millions of people here illegally. If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future,” Rubio wrote. Your decision in 2012 to institute the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was a major impediment to passage of the kind of immigration reform our nation needs. No matter what we tried to do to institute meaningful enforcement measures in the Senate bill, opponents pointed to DACA as evidence of your unwillingness to enforce the law. They argued that no matter what we wrote into law on enforcement, your administration would simply ignore it. Furthermore, your pursuit of unilateral action in the midst of an election year, without any concern for the policy ramifications, has played a significant role in the humanitarian and security crisis that has been occurring on our border with Mexico.”
Rubio wrote that this isn’t his opinion, “but the opinion of the Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, who pointed to the ‘ambiguity’ of America’s immigration laws – which DACA exacerbated – as having a direct impact on the immigration crisis we now see playing out on our borders.”
“While it is true legally that those who are arriving are not eligible to relief under DACA, coyotes and human traffickers do not share the details of our immigration laws and policies with those they seek to exploit,” Rubio wrote. “In fact, data released by your administration, shows a consistent increase in the number of unaccompanied minor children crossing our southern border following the implementation of DACA. The arrival of more than 56,000 unaccompanied minor children through June of this year alone, and more than 74,000 since 2012, proves that many of them believe it.”