“Their argument is based on a single premise, which I think is flawed,” Rubio told reporters. “That is these people are disproportionately poor because they have no education and they will be poor for the rest of their lives in the U.S. Quite frankly that’s not the immigration experience in the U.S. That’s certainly not my family’s experience in the U.S. The folks described in that report are my family. My mother and dad didn’t graduate high school and I would not say they were a burden on the United States…My parents were a lot better off 25 years after they emigrated here than they were when they first got here. And their children certainly have been. I still think we’re that country. And I still think we can be that country and even more in the future, so I guess I just have a lot more belief in the future of the country than some of the folks that helped prepare [the report].”
Indeed, the Heritage study ignores immigrants’ gains in wages and education after legalization, preferring to categorize all immigrants as “takers” who will be permanently dependent on the government.
Rubio’s heated critique of the Heritage study highlights widening divides in the GOP over immigration. In the past, Rubio has called Heritage president and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) his best friend, according to the New York Times. But now, DeMint has vowed to work against Rubio’s pet cause. Rubio has stated before that their disagreement over immigration “is never going to change how I feel about Jim DeMint, and hopefully doesn’t change how he feels about me.” Today, he pointedly added, “Anyone who opposes this bill but fails to offer a real and specific alternative is in favor of the status quo.”
In a response published by the Washington Examiner, Heritage argued Rubio’s parents worked hard because they came to the U.S. before many of the social safety net programs were created:
“Sen. Rubio’s parents came here in 1956, almost a decade before the introduction of the Great Society programs that laid the foundation of the modern welfare state. Over the following four and a half decades, our government has added layer upon layer of government involvement in our lives, creating a dependency that undermines self-respect and self-reliance.”