Rep. Mo Brooks, Alabama Republican, said Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida led efforts to “open the floodgates” on immigration because of their support for a comprehensive 2013 bill that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for most of the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Mr. Brooks said that, coupled with the number of illegal immigrants that could be granted legalization through the bill and the increase in the number of lawful immigrants, “over a 10-year period of time, the number of foreigners who would be either legalized because they’re already here or would be allowed to come into the United States of America would be anywhere in the neighborhood of 44 to 57 million.”
“Now, I’m from the state of Alabama - that’s the equivalent of nine to 11 state of Alabama populations brought into America or legalized in America over a short, 10-year period of time - that’s a huge change,” Mr. Brooks said on Tim Constantine’s Capitol Hill Show on The Washington Times radio.
“But it was Republicans like Marco Rubio in the United States Senate who led the effort to open the floodgates,” he said. “And he wasn’t alone, if my memory serves me correctly - there were roughly a dozen United States senators, Republicans, who joined with Marco Rubio in that effort.”
Mr. Rubio was an original member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” group that wrote the bill that passed the Senate on a bipartisan 68-32 vote in 2013, but later backed away from the legislation and has advocated a piecemeal approach to the issue.
“What I’m saying to people is, we can’t do it in a massive piece of legislation,” Mr. Rubio said this week on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And I know because I tried.”
Mr. Rubio said if he were president, he would ask Congress to pass a specific bill on the E-Verify program to prevent visa overstays and improve border security, then work on modernizing the country’s legal immigration system, and then deal with the approximately 11 million people in the country illegally, with people here longer than a decade able to get a work permit if they pass a background check, learn English, pay taxes, and pay a fine.
“And after a substantial period of time in that status, assuming they haven’t violated any of the conditions of that status, they would be allowed to apply for legal residency, just like anybody else would, not a special process. And after you’re a legal resident, after a number of years, by law, you’re allowed to apply for citizenship,” Mr. Rubio said.
“It’s a long process. It’s a reasonable process. It’s a fair process. But it has to happen in that order. And it begins with serious enforcement measures,” he said.
But many conservatives have been upset with Mr. Rubio’s handling of the issue, and Mr. Brooks said the GOP has to make sure they elect the right people on the issue.
“So we in the Republican party first have to make sure that we elect Republicans who believe in border security, who believe in the sanctity of the borders of the United States of America, and who understand that this huge influx of both illegal alien labor coupled with lawful immigration is doing great damage to American families who are having a hard time finding jobs,” Mr. Brooks said.
Mr. Brooks also said he was disappointed in House and Senate leadership on the issue. A federal judge in Texas has halted President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that the president issued in November in the wake of a suit brought forth by Texas and 25 other states.
“We could have been on the leading edge of this instead of hoping that the states would do our jobs, and right now the House and Senate leadership have decided that in order to placate the United States Chamber of Commerce, they’re going to let the states do our job - the job of the United States Congress - and that’s embarrassing and that’s shameful,” Mr. Brooks said.