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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio: No immigration reform without E-Verify

President Barack Obama right now is giving a speech in El Paso calling for a renewed debate on immigration, praising efforts of some Republicans like former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez.

"When an issue is this complex and raises such strong feelings, it’s easier for politicians to defer the problem until after the next election," he said. "And there’s always a next election. So we’ve seen a lot blame and politics and ugly rhetoric. We’ve seen good faith efforts – from leaders of both parties – fall prey to the usual Washington games. And all the while, we’ve seen the mounting consequences of decades of inaction."

Republicans have said Obama is up to the usual Washington games -- trying to rally Hispanic voters before the election -- but have not shown initiative on the divisive issue. Sen. Marco Rubio, in an interview before the speech, said a debate is needed but tougher security needs to come before reform measures.

"We can’t move on to the modernization of our legal immigration system until both the border and the workforce are secure -- both E-Verify and real security of both the Canadian and Mexican borders," the Florida Republican said.

Obama in his speech touts tougher border controls and accused Republicans of "moving the goal posts." More from him below.

"We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I suspect there will be those who will try to move the goal posts one more time. They’ll say we need to triple the border patrol. Or quadruple the border patrol. They’ll say we need a higher fence to support reform. Maybe they’ll say we need a moat. Or alligators in the moat. 
 
"They’ll never be satisfied.  And I understand that.  That’s politics.

"But the truth is, the measures we’ve put in place are getting results. Over the past two and a half years, we’ve seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, and 64 percent more weapons than before. Even as we’ve stepped up patrols, apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago – that means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 5:54pm]

    

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