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 McCainJohn McCainLindsey Graham calls for investigation of Russia's role in U.S. election Republicans tie Trump's Defense pick to funding fight Lawmakers haggle over funding bill as shutdown nears MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamLindsey Graham calls for investigation of Russia's role in U.S. election Ex-Im Bank fails to get quorum reprieve in stopgap spending bill Overnight Defense: Funding bill would ease Trump Defense pick's confirmation | Obama delivers final security speech MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeUnlike Romney, Evan McMullin stands tall against Trump Cures bill clears first Senate hurdle Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules MORE (R- Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerThe Hill's 12:30 Report Dems press Trump to support ‘Buy America’ provision in water bill Overnight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinGOP eager to see Harry Reid go Republicans tie Trump's Defense pick to funding fight Lawmakers haggle over funding bill as shutdown nears MORE (D-Ill.), Robert MenendezRobert MenendezThe right person for State Department is Rudy Giuliani Warren, Menendez question shakeup at Wells Fargo Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate passes college anti-Semitism bill Speculation and starting points: accreditation, a new administration and a new Congress The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (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.