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 McCainBush World goes for Clinton, but will a former president? GOP senator: Trump could lose Arizona Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE (R-S.C.), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeGOP senator: Trump could lose Arizona McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R- Ariz.), Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFormer Gillibrand aide wins NY House primary Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Juan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinClinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Reid backs House Puerto Rico bill McConnell pledges redo vote on Zika after break MORE (D-Ill.), Robert MenendezRobert MenendezOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Menendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetCruz-backed candidate wins GOP primary in Colorado Colorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open Ted Cruz chooses sides in Colorado Senate primary 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.