- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida warned President Obama Tuesday against taking sweeping unilateral action on immigration, saying the move could torpedo the chances of getting Congress to address the thorny issue.

In a letter to Mr. Obama, Mr. Rubio said that he is convinced that comprehensive immigration reform is dead and that elected leaders must take a piecemeal approach to the problem — starting with securing the border and enforcing the laws already on the books.

“If we can make real progress on stemming the tide of illegal immigration, I am convinced we will have the support necessary to address this serious issue once and for all,” he said. “All of this is why I have grown increasingly alarmed by news that your administration is considering sweeping executive action to give work permits to millions of people here illegally.

“If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Mr. Obama has been weighing what to do about immigration since Congress left for its August recess after lawmakers failed to find common ground on how best to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing into the country illegally.

Mr. Obama has signaled that he plans to pursue some sort of executive action before the end of the summer — fueling speculation that he could build upon the non-deportation policy he adopted in 2012 that granted temporary legal status to most illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they were 16.

Mr. Rubio, in his letter, said the 2012 action proved to be a “major impediment to passage of the kind of immigration reform our nation needs” and that additional unilateral action would further dim the prospects of immigration reform.

Mr. Rubio, a possible presidential contender in 2016, became the face of the immigration debate last year when he pushed — as part of a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers — a bill that would have provided a quick path to legal status for most illegal immigrants in exchange for tighter border security. The proposal also included a path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants.

The bill passed the Senate — with the help of 14 Republicans — but was never taken up in the House after conservatives derided the measure.

Since then, Mr. Rubio has come under attack from conservatives who say that he was wrong to work with the likes of Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on the Senate bill, which they say amounts to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

In his letter Tuesday to Mr. Obama, Mr. Rubio said that he is convinced that there is “no realistic path forward on comprehensive reform for the foreseeable future.”

“Instead, it is clear to me now that the only approach that has any chance of success is one that addresses our immigration problems in a series of sequential pieces of legislation,” he said.

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