WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – Sen. Marco Rubio has some serious doubts as to whether the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill will hold up in the House or the Senate.
With the bill lacking in language that puts more of an emphasis on border security, Rubio believes that the bill, which is predicted not to pass in the Republican-controlled House, will have a difficult time passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“The part we still have to do some work on is this border stuff,” Rubio, R-Fla., said on Sean Hannity’s program on Wednesday. “As I said in an another interview yesterday, this bill will not pass the House and, quite frankly, may struggle to pass the Senate, if it doesn’t deal with that issue. So we’ve got some work to do. And, clearly, what we have in there now is not good enough for too many people and so we’ve got to make it better and that’s what I’m asking for and that’s what we’re working on.”
Rubio’s comments come on the heels of a Tuesday interview that expressed his concerns with the bill’s ability to pass through the House.
“The bill that’s in place right now probably can’t pass the House,” Rubio said to radio host Mike Gallagher on Tuesday. “It will have to be adjusted, because people are very suspicious about the willingness of the government to enforce the laws now.”
The policies in the bill have been criticized by advocates on both sides of the immigration debate. Immigration advocates said the policies taken together could exclude hundreds of thousands or even a million or more of the 11 million immigrants here illegally. The Senate Judiciary Committee is to begin voting on the legislation next week.
“If you’re going to leave several hundred thousand behind and leave them in the shadows you’re not solving the problem,” said Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“We’re very concerned that what the bill does is it punishes people for being poor,” Appleby said.
Several of the bill’s authors have said the American public only is willing to accept citizenship, still derided by some as amnesty, if it comes with tough conditions. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., defended the bill’s approach.
“Becoming a United States citizen should not be easy, it’s never been easy for anyone who came here from another country,” McCain said Tuesday at a forum at the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. Republicans such as Rubio have indicated they won’t be able to support the bill if border security and enforcement provisions are weakened.
President Barack Obama, who’s embraced immigration legislation as a top second-term priority, also praised the Senate bill Tuesday even though it is stricter in some areas than his own approach on immigration. For example, Obama has not supported making the citizenship pathway contingent on border security.
“The bill that they produced is not the bill that I would have written, there are elements of it that I would change, but I do think that it meets the basic criteria that I laid out from the start,” Obama said at a news conference Tuesday. Those criteria are more effective border security, cracking down on employers who would hire immigrants here illegally, enacting improvements to the legal immigration system, and creating a pathway to citizenship, Obama said.
Obama said he was open to different solutions that might be proposed by the House, but only if his basic criteria still are met.
“And if they meet those criteria but they’re slightly different than the Senate bill, then I think that we should be able to come up with an appropriate compromise,” Obama said. “If it doesn’t meet those criteria, then I will not support such a bill. So we’ll have to wait and see.”
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