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Entries in immigration bill (6)

Sunday
Jun162013

Rubio: President’s Inaction Has Led to ‘Worst Possible Scenario’ in Syria

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- During an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio criticized President Obama for not intervening sooner in Syria’s civil war, saying the inaction has led to the “worst possible scenario” in the war-torn country.

“It behooved us to kind of identify whether there was elements there within Syria fighting against Assad that we could work with, reasonable people that wouldn’t carry out human rights violations, and could be part of building a new Syria. We failed to do that. This president failed to do that,” Rubio told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

“The fact that it’s taken this White House and this president so long to get a clear and concise policy on Syria has left us with the worst possible scenario right now,” Rubio added.

“So now your options are quite limited. Now the strongest groups fighting against Assad, unfortunately, are al Qaeda-linked elements. That doesn’t mean that they all are, but it certainly — this group has become the most organized, the best armed, the best equipped. Our options are now really narrower than they were a few months ago,” he said.

The United States will provide arms to Syrian rebels after determining this week that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. President Obama has said the use of such weapons would cross a “red line.

More than 90,000 people have died in Syria since March of 2011 according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, while the Obama administration estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from chemical weapons attacks in the country.

Rubio was also asked by Karl if he supported his own immigration bill, which he helped author with the “Gang of Eight” members in the Senate.

“Obviously I think it’s an excellent starting point and I think 95 — 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go,” Rubio said. “But there are elements that need to be improved,” citing the border security portion of the current bill.

The immigration bill currently in the Senate will need some Republican support in order to overcome a potential filibuster. Many in the GOP want to see the border security measures in the bill strengthened before they would consider supporting it.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun082013

President Obama's Weekly Address: Fixing the Immigration System

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama urged congress to work together to reform The United States’ “broken immigration system,” in his weekly address.

The president began by saying that, for a country that describes itself as a “nation of immigrants,” America’s immigration system is woefully out-of-date and has “actually harmed our economy and threatened our security.”

He then highlighted some of the improvements that have been made over the past four years, including strengthening the border, cracking down on criminals in the country illegally, and helping those who were brought into the country as children.

However, the president said, “to truly fix a broken system, we need Congress to act in a comprehensive way.  And that’s why what’s happening next week is so important.”

Obama outlined what the bill about to go before Congress would do, noting that while it isn’t perfect, it was a compromise that Democrats and Republicans could support and was consistent with commonsense reform.

The bill would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the more than 11 million individuals currently living in the country illegally. This pathway, the president said, would include passing a background check, paying taxes, learning English and then “going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.”

Obama said the bill was “the most ambitious enforcement plan in recent memory,” and would continue to strengthen the borders and enact harsher penalties for smugglers, traffickers and employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.

If passed, the bill would also modernize the legal immigration system.

“We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that,” Obama warned.  “They’ll try to stoke fear and create division.  They’ll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed.  And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken.

The president urged American’s to contact their representatives to “tell them we have to get this done so that everyone is playing by the same rules.  Tell them we have the power to do this in a way that lives up to our traditions as a nation of laws, and a nation of immigrants.”  

“In the end, that’s what this is all about,” he concluded. “Men and women who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story, just like so many of our ancestors did.  Throughout our history, that has only made us stronger.  And it’s how we’ll make sure that America’s best days always lie ahead.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun012013

Marco Rubio Right in the Middle of the Immigration Debate

Photo by Michael Bonfigli /The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As an immigration reform bill heads to the floor of the Senate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is staking out a position as the man who can help bargain for Republican votes.

The bipartisan legislation will likely only need a handful of GOP votes to gain passage in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But the senators who drafted the bill want to pass it with a strong majority.

The reason: They think that will help its chances in the House, where Republicans have the majority and some, like Rep. Steve King, R- Iowa, will be scheming to kill it.

That's where Rubio comes in.

Even though Rubio is one of the authors of the bill, he's suggested changing it in recent weeks. That's because he thinks certain parts to the legislation need to be altered if it's going to pass, according to Alex Burgos, a spokesperson for the senator.

The bill will have to "earn the support of Democrat and Republican senators who do not support the bill as it stands today," Burgos wrote in an email.

So far, Rubio has mostly been working to pick up Republican support. Take border security, for example.

As the legislation stands right how, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is tasked with coming up with a plan to secure the border. Rubio suggested recently that it might be better for Congress to spell out how the plan should work.

Rubio's mission to make the bill more conservative might be necessary to help it's long-term odds at passage. But it could also agitate liberal supporters of immigration reform.

It's the price Rubio pays for sitting at the center (or center-right) of this coalition. He's the glue holding the deal together, but that's also made him a popular target for both sides.

Some immigrant rights groups are already going after Rubio for things like beefed up border security, including a protest on Friday at his Florida office.

And at the same time, he's been weathering attacks from immigration restrictionists who are angry that he's supporting citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Those seem to be growing in intensity, with one group reportedly taking out 30-second ads against the senator on Florida television.

What this means is that Rubio will likely be the politician to watch as the immigration debate moves forward.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May052013

Jim DeMint: Immigration Reform Will Cost US Trillions

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former South Carolina Republican senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint argued that implementing immigration reform as proposed by the so-called “Gang of Eight” would “cost Americans trillions of dollars,” citing a soon-to-be released update to the conservative group’s 2007 study on the impact of immigration reform.

“The study you’ll see from Heritage this week presents a staggering cost of another amnesty in our country,” DeMint said this morning on ABC’s This Week. DeMint’s claim is based on the “detrimental effects long-term” of government benefits that would eventually go to the millions offered a path to citizenship under the reform legislation currently being considered.

“There’s no reason we can’t begin to fix our immigration system so that we won’t make this problem worse. But the bill that’s being presented is unfair to those who came here legally. It will cost Americans trillions of dollars. It’ll make our unlawful immigration system worse,” DeMint said.

A 2007 study by Robert Rector said the cost to the United States of immigration reform would be at least $2.6 trillion, assuming all undocumented immigrants were granted “amnesty.” When asked if the new Heritage estimate would be more than $2.5 trillion, DeMint responded “much more than that.”

The 2007 study is not without its critics, such as Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, who wrote in April that the study’s “flawed methodology produced a grossly exaggerated cost to federal taxpayers of legalizing unauthorized immigrants while undercounting or discounting their positive tax and economic contributions.”

DeMint dismissed the criticisms, including estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that say immigration reform will increase economic growth.

“Well, CBO said Obamacare wouldn’t cost us anything. They’re basically puppets of the Congress and the assumptions they put in the bill. Heritage is only organization that has done an analysis on the cost,” DeMint said.

“If you consider all the factors related to the amnesty – and, believe me, this is comprehensive – that it will have a negative long-term impact on our gross domestic product,” DeMint added. “So we just want Congress, for once, to count the cost of a bill. They’re notorious for underestimating the cost and not understanding the consequences.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May012013

Most Americans Don't Know Much About Immigration Bill

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When it comes to immigration reform, most Americans don’t know much about it, and few think that the Boston bombing should be a factor in the debate.

The issue may be front-and-center in the nation’s capital, but around the rest of the country, when it comes to the immigration reform bill before Congress, it turns out many Americans don’t know much about it, at least according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

“It’s very early, that’s something to remember,” Carroll Doherty, an associate director at Pew, said. “This debate is just really getting underway.”

Four in 10 of those surveyed say they “don’t know” when it comes to their opinion of the immigration bill before the Senate, while 33 percent say they favor the bill and 28 percent oppose it.

The lack of opinion and indifference remains fairly consistent throughout other issues the bill may affect, such as if it will help or hurt the U.S. economy, or make the U.S. more or less safe from terrorism. The majority in both cases believe the bill will “not make much of a difference.”

The Pew survey, a self-proclaimed “independent fact tank,” was conducted the last week of April, two weeks after the Boston marathon bombing. When it was discovered the suspected bombers were immigrants, it became a contentious issue for some Republicans who called for a possible delay on the bill.

But of those surveyed, many do not think the bombings should be a factor in the debate for immigration reform; 58 percent called the two “separate issues.”

What may come as the biggest surprise to those in Washington: barely 20 percent of those surveyed say they are “following the story very closely,” which may explain why less than half know that the bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators.

Just 37 percent of those polled know that the legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators -- 9 percent thought a group of Democrats introduced the legislation, while 7 percent believed it was a group of Republicans. The overwhelming majority, 47 percent, did not know who introduced the bill.

“The idea of the Gang of Eight or a bipartisan group...some would think that would get more attention because it goes against prevailing trends in Washington,” Doherty said, while cautioning that the Boston bombing was capturing most of the attention, as well as the gun control legislation.

The fact that the bill lays out a path to citizenship that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the country was also a lesser known fact by those surveyed.

Only 46 percent knew that the bill would allow unauthorized immigrants to stay in the country while applying for citizenship.

Doherty said that although many of the policies of the bill are not well known yet, other recent Pew surveys that examined issues included in the Senate legislation provide better context for public perception.

“It almost makes sense to look at our other recent surveys on immigration,” he said. “Attitudes about the basic principles at this point are as important as the early attitudes about the legislation.”

A March survey found that 71 percent favored finding a way for people here illegally to stay in the country “if they meet certain requirements.”

That same March survey also saw a huge shift in overall perception of immigrants compared to views in the early 1990s.

According to that survey, “63% viewed immigrants as a burden, but the percentage expressing this view declined substantially by the end of the 1990s (to 38% in September 2000).” Whereas today, “49% agree with the statement 'immigrants today strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents.'"

“The changing views on immigration are as important as the snapshot measurements of the legislation,” Doherty said.

Among the 24 percent who did have a baseline of understanding for the bill, the majority had an overwhelmingly favorable opinion of the legislation (50 percent vs 33 percent).

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr142013

Marco Rubio: Immigration Bill Doesn’t ‘Give’ Anything Away

Michael Bonfigli /The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Days before a bipartisan immigration bill is scheduled to be presented, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida argued Sunday morning on This Week that a key provision of the bill, the so-called “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented workers, would not give anything away and said it would in fact be cheaper for undocumented workers living in the U.S.  to become citizens if they left the country first and then applied for legal status.

“All we’ve done here is create an alternative to that that they can access, and the alternative we’ve created is going to be longer, more expensive and more difficult to navigate,” Rubio said. “It will actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years, and applied for a green card.  And so, secondly, we’ve not awarding anything.  All we’re giving people the opportunity to eventually do is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that will be available to everybody else.”

Rubio, who is seen as a key figure holding the bipartisan Senate group known as the “Gang of Eight” together, said that some of the undocumented workers currently in the country would not be eligible to seek legal status under the bill.

“I think it’s important to understand it does not give anything.  It allows people access to the legal immigration system,” Rubio said. “Number two, some people won’t qualify.  They haven’t been here long enough; they’ve committed very serious crimes.  They won’t be able to stay.  Number three is all people will get is an opportunity to apply for things, to apply for a legal status, which isn’t awarded on day one … The only thing you are earning here is an opportunity to apply for temporary status, and ultimately, potentially to apply for a green card, the way everybody else does.  And that’s the process that we are outlining.”

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl also asked the Florida senator about the Senate vote Thursday that overcame a Republican filibuster to allow debate to proceed on possible gun legislation. Rubio slammed a plan being supported by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that would expand background checks.

“Criminals don’t care about the laws that we pass with regards to guns.  They never follow the law.  That’s why they’re criminals,” Rubio said. “Look, here is the bottom line.  I think everyone is in favor of any law that could effectively keep criminals or dangerous people from getting access to guns.  The problem is that all these laws that people are discussing will not effectively deal with that problem, but will infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. And so, what we need to look for is a compromise that actually accomplishes that, that does not infringe or place additional burdens on law-abiding citizens, and in fact is effective at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and that begins by enforcing it.”

Rubio went on to say that the country has missed a “golden opportunity” to discuss the problem of violence in our society.

“This debate about guns, we are missing a golden opportunity to have the real debate we should be having, and that is a debate about violence,” Rubio said. “Guns are what they’re using to commit the violence, but the problem is violence, and no one is focusing on why this society has become so violent, why young people in America are committing these horrifying acts, and we are missing a golden opportunity to discuss that, and not simply just focus on gun laws that only law-abiding people will follow.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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