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Rubio Discusses Immigration Vision On “The O’Reilly Factor”
Interview w/ FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly
Senator Marco Rubio
January 16, 2013
FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly: “Senator Marco Rubio from Florida has put forth his immigration vision. So what’s the headline of that?”
Senator Marco Rubio: “Well the headline of it is, we need legal immigration. It is good for our country, but we also have a right to have immigration laws and, as a sovereign country, to enforce those laws. We have a problem. Number one: our legal immigration system is antiquated. It needs to be modernized for farm workers, for you know we can’t just have six and a half percent of the people who immigrate here be on skill and talent. We need to up that number. That doesn’t mean undermine family-based immigration. We have to have more skill-based immigration.
“The second thing we have to do is real enforcement. And that includes improving the infrastructure at the border and getting operational control of the border. That includes workplace enforcement, whether that’s e-verify or something else that works. And that means, by the way, tracking people when they come in the country and when they leave as visitors because 40 percent of our illegal immigration are visa holders.”
O’Reilly: “Yeah, they just stay. Well, all of that with the technology we have should be doable. But the real elephant in the room are the 12 million illegal aliens already here.”
Rubio: “Well, and look I don’t like that either. I wish we didn’t have 8 or 12 million people here that are undocumented, but we do, and we have to deal with it. But we have to deal with it in a way that’s compassionate but also responsible.”
O’Reilly: “But specifically.”
Rubio: “Well, here’s how I would deal with it. First of all, if you’ve committed a serious crime you’re going to be deported.”
O’Reilly: “You’re done.”
Rubio: “And no one would disagree with that. But if you haven’t, you have to come forward, you have to be finger printed, background checked for national security and crimes, you have to pay back taxes, you have to pay fines, you have to have been here for a significant period of time, know English and be assimilated. And if you do all of those things, what you get is a work permit, basically. A legal status, not a green card, to allow you to be in this country legally and to work.”
O’Reilly: “Like, you get a driver’s license, insurance, things like that?”
Rubio: “Yeah, you’ll be legally here. Basically, a non-permanent visa.”
O’Reilly: “Will you be on Social Security?”
Rubio: “No. Under that status, no one qualifies for any federal benefits.”
O’Reilly: “All you get is right to work, the right to have a driver’s license, the right to stay here.”
Rubio: “Right. That’s the first part of it. And then you’ll have to be in that category for a significant period of time. When a significant period of time has elapsed, you haven’t violated any of those conditions and, in fact, the border has been secured, the workplace enforcement mechanism is in place – all of that happens – that will trigger a second phase.
“And that second phase is this. All you would get at that point is the opportunity to apply for the existing legal immigration system.”
O’Reilly: “But you could still be here to do it. You don’t have to go back home?”
Rubio: “Well, you’re right. But you have to get in line behind everyone that applied before you. You have to qualify for the visa when your term comes up. All you get is access to the existing system.”
O’Reilly: “What I am seeing here is maybe a 7-10 year period where an illegal alien currently here does get an opportunity to make a living, can stay and then can apply for citizenship, but the process is going to take.”
Rubio: “Well, actually they don’t apply. They apply for a green card. And then after you get your green card, you have to wait another five years to apply for citizenship, which you have to pass the exam and do all the other stuff.”
O’Reilly: “Alright, that seems to be pretty fair. How does that differ with what the President wants?”
Rubio: “Well, I don’t know what the President wants. I mean he talks about pathway to citizenship. My problem with that is this, and the way you structure it. You can’t do that in a way that’s unfair to the people that are doing it the right way. In essence, I can’t go to someone who is trying to come here legally, is waiting in line, has paid all his fees and say you should have come illegally, it would have been easier.”
O’Reilly: “I’m very surprised though. You’re taking the lead in the Republican stance and putting this forth and you haven’t discussed it with the President? Hasn’t he called you?”
Rubio: “No, they’ve never talked with us about it. And the truth is look, the way our republic is designed, the Congress is supposed to pass laws and then the President can decide whether to sign it or not.”
O’Reilly: “But you’re a leader. Shouldn’t the President be conferring with leaders in the House and the Senate?”
Rubio: “Well, I’ll be more than happy to talk to him and explain my principles to them.”
O’Reilly: “But he hasn’t called?”
Rubio: “No, but here is the bottom line. We’re going to work with our colleagues to get something responsible done, that’s fair, but also responsible. We don’t want to incentivize people to come here illegally in the future.”
O’Reilly: “Look, you may know this, and I’ve been very tough on this issue and border security but it is getting better. The stats show it is getting better. I think they have a handle on it now, and I like your program. I think it’s fair. So, I want you and President Obama to get on the phone and get this thing so it doesn’t turn into a bloody mess.”
Rubio: “Maybe we can come on this show together.”
O’Reilly: “Absolutely and I’ll give you the whole hour. You guys will come on and we’ll sort it out. But you know what, I don’t know if President Obama wants to solve these problems. I think he wants to destroy the Republican Party, particularly in the eyes of Hispanic-American voters. So he’s going to make it as hard as possible to get anything done and demonize you guys. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s what I’m seeing here with the fiscal business, and now with the guns, and now with this.”
Rubio: “Well, I hope you’re wrong too because ultimately we have a chance to solve an important issue and do it the right way. But I don’t think that’s their attitude.”
O’Reilly: “Do you think I’m wrong?”
Rubio: “Well I don’t know.”
O’Reilly: “Awe, come on.”
Rubio: “Here’s what I can tell you. I can tell you that I believe that there are people in the Democratic Party, or I should say on the left, that would prefer to have immigration as an issue than as a solution.”
O’Reilly: “Is he one of them?”
Rubio: “Well we are about to find out. And I hope that the answer is no. I really do.”
O’Reilly: “Would you put in a call to him and see if you can talk to him?”
Rubio: “Oh I’m sure we’ll be talking to them soon, one way or another.”
O’Reilly: “Will you let me know?”
Rubio: “You don’t think he watches this show?”
O’Reilly: “Well he doesn’t watch it. He’s busy, but he gets a transcript of it.”
O’Reilly: “But here’s what I’d like to do. I’d like your office and you to try and set up some meeting with him and with some Republican senator leaders and go over it, talk about it, and then let me know what happens.”
Rubio: “Alright, we’ll do that.”
O’Reilly: “Because that’s the only way. Transparency is the only way that’s going to get this done. It’s the only way that it’s going to get the fiscal thing done, the gun thing done and the immigration thing. Transparency. If the President of the United States is not going to cooperate with the opposing party, we need to report that. That’s going to be very, very, very important going forward. Because we all want fairness, and I think your program is a good one. Hey Senator, good to see you. We really appreciate you taking the time.”
Rubio: “No, thanks for having me on.”