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 McCainOvernight Energy: Clinton takes on Blankenship in coal country The Trail 2016: Indiana gets ugly on GOP judgment day Ex-McCain aide: I'm with Clinton over Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTroops question rules for ISIS medal The beginning of the end for Ted Cruz Graham: 'Lucifer may be the only person Trump can beat in a general election' MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeMany Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico McCain fundraiser faces felony drug charges in Arizona MORE (R- Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerCruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' With Ryan’s blessing, lawmakers press ahead with tax reform talks Big business will never appease the Left MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinJudiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Elizabeth Warren stumps, raises funds for Duckworth Senators roll out changes to criminal justice bill MORE (D-Ill.), Robert MenendezRobert MenendezSenate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Senate close to voting on Mexico ambassador MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetReid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell GOP Senate candidate wins right to be on Colorado ballot EPA ozone rule looms large in swing state 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.