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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio: 'No doubt' immigration bill 'heading in the right direction' but border still issue

The Senate Judiciary Committee resumed work today on the immigration bill and adopted several amendments that Sen. Marco Rubio said are critical in gaining support.

"There’s no doubt that the bill is heading in the right direction. Probably not fast enough for some people but certainly it’s better than the day we started," Rubio said in an interview, singling out an amendment that would require fingerprint systems at major airports to track visa holders.

"Do not underestimate how important that biometric measure is,” he said. “Eventually 30 of the largest international airports in the country would be covered. We’re told over 90 percent of the international travelers who enter the U.S. would go through that system.”

Despite his optimism Rubio, who does not sit in the Judiciary Committee, said border security remains the biggest outstanding issue. "We’ve got both Democrats and Republicans saying they can’t support the bill unless they have comfort that border measures we put in the bill are stronger. We’re going to have to work on that to get their votes.

"We’re meeting with a lot of stakeholders. ... We’re not ready to announce anything but certainly, that’s something we continue to focus on … If people want to have a law and not just a bill we’re going to have to address it."

Lawmakers shaping the bill returned to Washington to news that a union representing 12,000 immigration enforcement officials opposes the bill.

"They raise valid concerns and I believed that from the beginning," Rubio said. "We’re going to continue to try to talk to them … A lot of their concerns, to be frank, are the way this administration is running the program. It’s not so much about the law as it is how they are being forced to implement the law. I've said this repeatedly: I think this administration's handling of the border and the comments by the Homeland Security secretary have made it harder to get things done."

[Last modified: Monday, May 20, 2013 6:55pm]


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