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 McCainGOP senators split over Cruz's aid on campaign trail Why a power grid attack is a nightmare scenario Senate fight brews over Afghan visas MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Senate amendments could sink email privacy compromise Trump: Romney 'walks like a penguin' MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeDem senators call for sanctions on Congo McCain urges sports leagues to return 'paid patriotism' money Overnight Tech: House GOP launches probe into phone, internet subsidies MORE (R- Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSchumer touts policy victories over Obama administration Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Overnight Healthcare: House, Senate on collision course over Zika funding MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate contradicts itself on Gitmo Dems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals How airport security lines got so bad MORE (D-Ill.), Robert MenendezRobert MenendezKaine, Murphy push extension of Iran sanctions Dems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetDems see political gold in fight over Trump's taxes GOP Senate hopeful wants to go beyond Trump's Muslim ban Lawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill 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.