Rubio draws a line at the border, asserts Obama admin trying to 'scuttle' immigration reform
A Senate committee took on immigration reform for the first time today and battle lines quickly formed, with Republicans insisting border security must be the first priority and a top Obama official countering that the border has never been more secure.
"Too often the border security refrain simply serves as an excuse," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
That brought a response from Sen. Marco Rubio, who is helping craft the immigration legislation -- and walking a fine line between the conservative base and the GOP's desire to find a solution to the issue.
“If we are going to pass bipartisan immigration reform this year, the Administration must accept the principle that security triggers must be met before anyone who is currently undocumented is allowed to apply for a green card," Rubio said in a statement. "This is a principle agreed to by the bipartisan group of senators I am working with and it is something that must be included in any legislative proposal if it is to be successful. Secretary Napolitano’s refusal to accept this bipartisan principle at today’s Senate hearing is discouraging for those of us who are serious about permanently fixing America’s immigration system. By continuing to oppose a key security principle with bipartisan backing, Secretary Napolitano and this Administration appear to be laying the groundwork to scuttle the bipartisan effort in the Senate.”
At the same time, the border issue presents Rubio with an escape hatch, should the pressure grow over his support for an approach that would eventually grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants.