Sen. Marco Rubio says he’s done more on the issue of immigration than former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton ever has.
“I mean, I helped pass an immigration bill in a Senate dominated by Democrats. And that’s more than she’s ever done. She’s given speeches on it, but she’s never done anything on it. So I have a record of trying to do something on it,” the Florida Republican, who announced his 2016 presidential bid on Monday, told NPR.
Mr. Rubio’s support in 2013 for the comprehensive bill, which he eventually backed away from, ended up costing him with some conservatives. He said that the push ultimately didn’t work because the issue of illegal immigration was not sufficiently addressed and that he warned about that through the process — but said immigration reform is still necessary.
“I just don’t think you can do it in a comprehensive, massive piece of legislation, given the lack of trust that there is today in the federal government,” he said.
“I honestly believe that the key to moving forward on immigration is to first and foremost prove to the American people that we are going to bring future illegal immigration under control — that if we legalize 12 million people, they won’t be replaced by 12 million more who are here illegally,” Mr. Rubio said. “And I honestly believe, given my experiences on this issue now, that if we did that, the American people and the majority of Republicans and conservatives will be very reasonable and, and responsible about how we address the reality that we have 12 million human beings living in this country illegally.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, though, skewered Mr. Rubio’s position on the issue.
“He even went so far as to run away from his own immigration plan when the most extreme wing of his party put pressure on him,” said Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat. “Rubio says he’s a new type of Republican, but the only things he’s ever championed are the same failed policies the public has already rejected, and the only cause he’s ever advanced is his own.”