Rubio: “The choice is before us to try to fix this or leave it the way it is. And what we have today is a disaster of epic proportions. … We need to fix this, and this is our chance to fix it.”U.S. Senate Floor Speech
Senator Marco Rubio
June 20, 2013
Senator Marco Rubio: “I appreciate this opportunity, and I’ll be brief. My colleagues have already stated what this entails and the details of it, and I think that’s important. I got involved in this issue earlier this year after spending the better part of my first two years in the Senate thinking about this issue because quite frankly, not just being from Florida, but in South Florida, I’m surrounded by the reality of it every single day. When I started this effort, I became deeply convinced this is something that needed to be fixed and dealt with. But from the very beginning, from the very early days, I made clear that border security was an essential component. Now, I want to clarify why.
“This is not against anybody. Border security is not an anti-anyone effort. That’s not what it is. We understand that America is a special country. It’s so special that people want to come here from all over the world and they do. One million people come legally every single year. We also understand that it’s so special and unique that some people are willing to risk their lives to come here illegally. And as compassionate people, we understand that reality and our heart breaks at the stories of what people have to go through to come here.
“But we also understand that the United States of America is a sovereign country. And every single sovereign country on the planet, every single one, tries to or does control its borders and who comes into the country and who leaves. Every country in the world does that. And the United States of America should not be any different. And so that’s what this issue at the end of the day is about. It’s that we have a sovereign right to protect our border. And we have a crisis on the southern border of the United States. For many different reasons, people have chosen to cross that border illegally consistently for the last 20 or 30 years, and the results are evident to all of us. That is why border security is such an important part of this bill and of this measure. When we introduced our bill, the bill said that basically the Department of Homeland Security would be given some money and that they would get to decide what the border security plan looked like. Many people in the public, and many of our colleagues were unhappy with that proposal. They raised valid concerns that we were turning over border security and deciding what the plan [should be] to people that claim it is already secure.
“And so what this amendment does is it takes that back, and it says that we instead, we here in the Senate will decide what that plan is after we got input from border agents and others about what will work. And what this amendment reflects is what we know will work. We know that adding border agents, doubling the size of the U.S. Border Patrol, will work. We know that completing the fence work, that will work. We know that an entry-exit tracking system, since 40 percent of our illegal immigrants are those who overstay visas, we know that will work. We know that E-Verify will work – something that many of my colleagues in my party have asked for the better part of ten years – will work because it takes away the magnet of employment. And we know that these new technologies that weren’t available to us in 1986 or in 2006 or even five years ago, we know that will work. And what this bill says is you must do all of those things, and it is linked to legal permanent residence. In essence, someone who violated our immigration laws cannot become a legal permanent resident in the United States until all five of those things happen. That’s the guarantee that this will happen.
“Now let me close by saying I understand the frustration, I really do. I know that these promises have been made in the past. In a moment the Senator from Alabama, whose position on this is well stated, will point out these promises were also made in 1986. By the way, in 1986 I was 15 years old and I have got to tell you, immigration was the last thing on my mind at that time. But here’s the reality of it: the choice is before us to try to fix this or leave it way it is. And what we have today is a disaster of epic proportions. Ten or eleven million human beings living among us and we don’t know who they are. They are working but not paying taxes. There are criminals among them. That has to be solved. An illegal immigrant system built on the 19th century? We need to fix this, and this is our chance to fix it.”