Top Republican immigration reform negotiator and potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday that he has not considered the ‘political calculus’ of pushing legislation that will be a magnet for criticism from some within his own party, reports Carrie Dann of NBC News.
“I, quite frankly, have avoided making the political calculus on this issue,” the Florida senator said during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“What we have now isn’t good for anybody,” he added. “What we have in place today, the status quo, is horrible for America.”
Seeking to assuage conservative concerns about the soon-to-be-unveiled immigration reform bill drafted by the bipartisan Gang of Eight, Rubio said the legislation, which would give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, does not “reward” those who broke the law.
“It doesn’t reward or doesn’t award them anything,” he said. “But it does give them access to our legal immigration system through a process that will not encourage people to come here illegally in the future, and then through a process that isn’t unfair for people that have done it the right way.”
Rubio, a conservative affiliated with the Tea Party and one of just three Latinos in the Senate, added that the bill will not allow undocumented immigrants to achieve citizenship faster than those waiting to come to the country legally.
“If you’re waiting to come legally to the United States now, no one who has done it the wrong way will get it before you. In fact, it will be much cheaper, faster, easier and less bureaucratic if you’re doing it the right way,” he said.
The interview with NBC’s David Gregory was part of a weekend media blitz for Rubio, who appeared on all network Sunday shows as well as on Spanish-language programs to sell the immigration bill. The measure, which is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday, is sure to face fierce opposition from conservatives opposed to “amnesty.”
While the full details of the path to citizenship have not been formally released by the Gang of Eight, reports have indicated that undocumented immigrants will be required to pay fines and back taxes and wait 10 years in a “probationary” status before becoming eligible to apply for a merit-based visa.
Asked if his shepherding of the immigration measure would help him in a potential matchup against a top Democrat like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, Rubio again demurred.
“This is not about improving anyone’s poll number numbers,” he said. “This is very simple. I’m a Senator. I get paid not to just give speeches. I get paid to solve problems.”