Sen. Marco Rubio is proposing a comprehensive set of bills on immigration reform that is sure to upset more than a few people within his own party. Rubio recognizes that immigration is an important issue for Hispanic voters as demonstrated in the previous election where Republicans distanced themselves from a lot of pro-immigrant voters.
“[T]he immigration issue is a gateway issue for Hispanics, no doubt about it. No matter what your stance is on a number of other issues, if people somehow come to believe that you don’t like them or want them here, it’s difficult to get them to listen to anything else,” Rubio said. Rubio believes he can restore faith from Hispanic voters in Republican legislators with his new proposals and also feels that he can relate to immigrants. Being the son of Cuban immigrants, he knows the struggles that accompany growing up and having parents that do not speak the language. Within his new package of bills, Rubio increases the access for high skilled workers such as doctors and engineers. He also proposes a guest worker program for low skilled workers, including farm workers. Finally he supports the workplace enforcement and a stronger emphasis on border security.
The real challenge that Rubio is faced with includes the 12 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S. His plan becomes controversial as he differs from Democrats’ views on what should be done with the undocumented individuals and their families. He believes his plan for people in such circumstances “is not blanket amnesty or a special pathway to citizenship.” Rather, they would have to wait in line in order to apply for legal status and adhere to the requirements. While this is not ideal and critics are already saying this will take too long, it is an alternative to sending immigrants back to their native countries.
Rubio addresses questions by stating that the process has to be long enough to ensure that immigrants would not be tempted to acquire visas the illegal way and it has to be a realistic time so that something can be accomplished. Rubio points to the ineffectiveness of the immigration system in Europe that has people waiting forever and never quite acquiring the visas they need to travel. Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s running mate last election is considered a potential candidate for the 2016 election and stands behind Rubio’s proposal. He wrote, “Our future depends on an immigration system that works.” While President Obama appointed a bipartisan council that is supposed to be working on drafting an immigration bill, other legislators are also drafting bills that they feel will fix the immigration system.
If you have questions regarding the possibility of immigration reform in 2013 and how that might affect non-citizens living in Missouri and Illinois, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.