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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio on WH immigration plan: 'Would be dead on arrival'



A White House immigration plan that leaked Saturday, first reported by USA Today, drew a strong reaction from Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the 8 legislators working on a bipartisan bill. Obama's plan would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years, according to the draft.

"It's a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress," Rubio said in a statement. "President Obama's leaked immigration proposal is disappointing to those of us working on a serious solution. The President's bill repeats the failures of past legislation. It fails to follow through on previously broken promises to secure our borders, creates a special pathway that puts those who broke our immigration laws at an advantage over those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally, and does nothing to address guest workers or future flow, which serious immigration experts agree is critical to preventing future influxes of illegal immigrants.

"Much like the President's self-described 'stop gap' Deferred Action measure last year, this legislation is half-baked and seriously flawed. It would actually make our immigration problems worse, and would further undermine the American people’s confidence in Washington's ability to enforce our immigration laws and reform our broken immigration system."

"If actually proposed, the President's bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come."

A White House official told the Tampa Bay Times that the president's plans reflect bipartisan ideas that have been around for several years -- and were created with Republicans. What's more, the details that leaked were not a complete version of the proposal.

Still, Obama hasn't thrown open his doors to Republicans. When he sat down this week with lawmakers to discuss immigration it was a Democrat-only affair. And the administration has yet to reach out to Rubio.

“The president has made clear the principles upon which he believes any common-sense immigration reform effort should be based,” WH spokesman Clark Stevens said in a statement to reporters today. “We continue to work in support of a bipartisan effort, and while the president has made clear he will move forward if Congress fails to act, progress continues to be made and the administration has not prepared a final bill to submit."

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said:

“The scant details provided offer a glimpse of what looks to be very moderate White House proposal.  On one hand, we are pleased a clear, achievable road to citizenship is proposed for the undocumented.  On the other hand, the resources necessary for an unspecified number of Border Patrol and a massive increase in immigration judges would be better used at ports of entry and reducing the backlog for legal immigrants.

“Most importantly, the lack of attention paid to the future of America’s legal immigration system must change.  America’s economy needs the President and Congress to craft a stable immigration system that serves our economy and our workforce. Commonsense immigration reform must include a functioning immigration system for the future; reform does not begin and end with citizenship and enforcement alone. We hope the bipartisan process underway in the Senate achieves this goal."

Gamesmanship is always at play in a debate this big. Rubio largely signed onto a framework of ideas that matched what Obama had proposed a couple years ago. Rubio is facing pressure over his coming around to a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, so he's playing up enforcement-first. Any opportunity he can find to criticize Obama helps his own cause, while Obama may be trying to goad Republicans a bit. The White House points to an unprecedented level of border security already in place.

[Last modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 11:04pm]


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