Senator Marco Rubio
May 10, 2012
Senator Marco Rubio: “On the immigration issue one of the great injustices that’s happening in the American debate today is the idea that somehow Hispanics are in favor of illegal immigration. The enormous majority, the overwhelming majority, of Hispanics in this country are here legally. I think sixty percent of the Hispanics in this country were born here and so that’s number one. Number two is Hispanics support everything that the general population supports. Hispanics support border security. Hispanics support employment security. Hispanics support enforcing our immigration laws. These are facts. This notion that’s been created that somehow Hispanics are in favor of illegal immigration and that the way to win Hispanic votes is to support illegal immigration is not just wrong, I think it’s offensive and so I want to begin by that.
“Now, I believe that the most important thing we need to do in the illegal immigration issue that our country faces is a combination of enforce our laws and modernize our legal immigration system. We are not the anti-immigration party. We are not the anti-illegal immigration party. We are the pro-legal immigration party. We, meaning Republicans. And we need a legal immigration system that works, that honors our heritage both as a nation of immigrants and also as a nation of laws. That’s the way I think we should approach this issue.
“The Democrats have said that they’re going to make a push on the DREAM Act again this year, something that I do not support. And so I said well, if you’re going to make a push on the DREAM Act and they control the Senate, then we Republicans should figure out an alternative to your flawed approach to the DREAM Act. An alternative that tries to help kids who find themselves as victims. These are young people that came into America through no fault of their own. But how can we help them without rewarding those who have broken the law and not encouraging people to break the law in the future?
“The case that I always cite is the one in Miami of a girl who entered the United States when she was 4 years old. She was brought here by her parents. When you’re 4, you go where your parents go, even if what they’re doing is wrong. And she’s grown up here her whole life. She’s a valedictorian who’s been accepted to Dartmouth to study molecular biology and most Americans say it doesn’t feel right if she’s lived here her whole life to deport her. So what can we do to help her without rewarding illegal immigration or encouraging it in the future? And that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out. What we can do, as a response to the DREAM Act that the Democrats have offered. And we’re working on it, we’re trying to find something that, as I said, accomplishes that. Treats this in a humanitarian way but does not in any way open the door in the future for illegal immigration and doesn’t have some of the problems the DREAM Act has in it. So, it’s not going to be an easy endeavor.”
Laura Ingraham: “And your idea, again it’s just formulating, but your idea would not mean that people who are in other countries now doing everything they can to get here now illegally, so they can be the beneficiary of it, because they wouldn’t be included, is that right? People who come in now illegally?”
Rubio: “That’s right. It’s a very narrow criteria and we’re still working on it, but it would basically be people that have come here at some point in the past, at a very young age, have lived here consecutively, have no felony record, graduated from high school, are going to go to school or serve in the military, they have to finish school. And then what they would get basically is a non-immigrant visa. What I’ve tried to do is use the existing immigration system to accommodate them. You get a non-immigrant visa, which we do now for student visas and things of that nature. Then, afterwards, if you graduate, you can renew that and convert it into some sort of a work visa. And then at some point in the future, again we don’t know what that date is, that’s one of the things we’re working through, they would not have a special pathway to citizenship. They would have the same rights as anybody else in the world with a non-immigrant visa, which is the existing legal immigration system. Not a special pathway, not anything less, not anything more than legal immigration holders have.
“That’s kind of the general concept. We’re working through it. I mean, the devil is always in the details, but if that’s what the Democrats are going to push on this year, I feel like the Republicans should have an alternative.”
Ingraham: “And you believe that the Democrats are going to push this quote DREAM Act, I can’t stand the name, but DREAM Act in October to try to spike the Hispanic vote and pick a fight with Republicans, and make you look like a hater.”
Rubio: “I have no doubt about the fact that they would use this for that. In fact, one of the things that’s already been documented is that the White House – and articles have been written, two or three now – the White House has been calling in DREAM Act advocates and asking them, almost ordering them not to work with me on this issue because they have been counting on using this issue as a wedge issue in October to drive up turnout.
“I mean how do you get Hispanics that voted for you in 2008 – who now have higher unemployment, who have lost their businesses, lost their homes, and lost their jobs – how do you convince them to vote for you again? You need an issue like this.”
Ingraham: “Yeah, that people like you and Mitt Romney are haters. That’s what they’re going to use. You and Mitt Romney and people on talk radio are all haters. And this is the same tactic they always use. Senator Rubio, thank you for your analysis on all these issues. We really appreciate it.”
Rubio: “Thank you Laura.”