Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is urging his Republican colleagues to refrain from publicly endorsing a comprehensive immigration bill he helped write in hopes of bolstering its border security provisions and possibly delaying the path to citizenship for the nation’s 11.1 million undocumented immigrants.
According to the Huffington Post, Rubio urged Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to keep silent about her support for the measure before the first-term lawmaker endorsed the legislation on Sunday during an appearance on Face the Nation, calling it a “thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem.” In a separate editorial, Ayotte also wrote that she would “support strengthening the legislation’s border security measures even further.”
Rubio “has not been telling them to vote no,” a Senate Democratic aide told HuffPo, “He has been apparently holding people back from declaring support for the bill, while at the same time saying the bill needs changes in order to garner support. My understanding is he told Sen. Ayotte’s office to hold back, but she didn’t care.”
Rubio initially praised the senate bill for “the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States” but has since walked a delicate balance, telling conservatives that he will support amendments that will prevent immigrants from attaining permanent legal status until the border is secure, while assuring Hispanic media that the path to legalization will not be lengthened.
For instance, on June 4th, Rubio told conservative talker Hugh Hewitt that he wouldn’t vote for his own bill if more stringent border security amendments “don’t pass” the Senate and appeared to support a measure crafted by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) that would require the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Comptroller General to, among other requirements, certify that the government can monitor and control “every segment of the Southern border” before any immigrants in provisional status can file for lawful permanent residence. Under the senate bill, immigrants can apply for lawful status after the secretary submits border security and a fencing strategies to Congress and insures that both are “substantially deployed and substantially operational.”
Five days after appearing on Hewitt, Rubio informed Univision that “Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization.” “The legalization is going to happen,” Rubio said. “That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence.”