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Senator Rubio Calls For Open And Transparent Consideration Of Immigration Legislation

Mar 30, 2013 | Press Releases

Rubio: “[E]xcessive haste in the pursuit of a lasting solution is perhaps even more dangerous to the goals many of us share. … A rush to legislate, without fully considering all views and input from all senators, would be fatal to the effort of earning the public’s confidence.”

Washington, D.C. – As members of the bipartisan Senate group working on immigration legislation continue to finalize the bill as a starting point for debate by the full Senate, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio urged Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to prepare for a series of several hearings thoroughly examining the proposal.

Rubio cautioned against rushing any proposal through the Senate and instead advocates for a deliberative process that engages the American public and all senators.

The full text of the letter follows:

March 30, 2013

Dear Chairman Leahy:

As you know, I am part of a bipartisan group of Senators that has spent the last several months attempting to craft a consensus bill to fix our nation’s broken immigration system.  We have made considerable progress towards an approach that will secure our nation’s borders, provide for robust interior enforcement, establish an effective entry and exit system, and maintain a lawful future flow of immigrants and workers to meet the needs of a dynamic and growing economy. We also create a tough but fair approach that will allow many people currently here illegally to earn the ability to apply for legalization and eventually, after certain triggers are met, removes prohibitions for them to apply for a green card.

You have stated on multiple occasions that you believe immigration reform should be the legislative priority of your Committee this year.  We are grateful for that commitment and look forward to your leadership, and that of Ranking Member Grassley, as the process moves forward.  Sensitive to your prerogatives as Chairman, I write to express my strong belief that the success of any major legislation depends on the acceptance and support of the American people.  That support can only be earned through full and careful consideration of legislative language and an open process of amendments.

While you and your colleagues on the Judiciary Committee will agree on the details, I respectfully suggest that such a process must begin with a careful examination in the Committee including: hearings that explore multiple perspectives on the scope of the problems we face and the efficacy of the solutions we propose, markups in which a broad range of amendments can be considered, and a robust floor debate.  All of this, and any Conference Committee deliberations, should occur in the full view of the American people, broadcast on CSPAN, and streamed live on the internet.

I am aware that the Judiciary Committee, both under your leadership and under the leadership of your predecessors, has conducted a number of hearings related to immigration reform.  I am certain that those hearings deepened your knowledge of these issues and will guide much of your work this Congress.  But they cannot be a substitute for fresh hearings to consider specific legislation as part of a national conversation.  You have said the well-meaning disagreements senators have about these issues should be part of “a discussion we need to have out in the open, in front of the American people.”  I agree.

I cannot urge strongly enough that such a discussion start with meaningful hearings.  Of particular importance is a full consideration of border security proposals, including testimony from border security experts, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and others.  A key feature of our bipartisan approach has been an insistence on meeting border security and other enforcement triggers before unauthorized immigrants can apply for permanent residence.  But the success of these triggers will require examining what the American taxpayer’s commitment must be in order to make this security plan a reality.

For example, the legislation we will propose as a starting point for debate provides an estimate of money that will be required to fully implement the border security and fencing plan. But we need hearings to determine exactly how much money must be appropriated and which measures are most needed to achieve our border enforcement goals.

You have said that “delay for delay’s sake” would be a mistake in this matter, I agree. But excessive haste in the pursuit of a lasting solution is perhaps even more dangerous to the goals many of us share.  We owe it to the American people to get immigration reform right this time, so that future Congresses and future generations do not face the broken system we see today.  A rush to legislate, without fully considering all views and input from all senators, would be fatal to the effort of earning the public’s confidence.



Marco Rubio