One of the Senate Republicans in the gang of eight who forged a bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the upper chamber last year urged President Obama to not take unilateral action in the face of House inaction.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote in a letter to Obama today that he hoped “Senate action on this matter could serve as a catalyst for a humane but responsible reform that could ultimately achieve bicameral, bipartisan support,” but acknowledges the effort is now at a stalemate.
“After the experience of the last 18 months, I have become convinced that there is no realistic path forward on comprehensive reform for the foreseeable future. Instead, it is clear to me now that the only approach that has any chance of success is one that addresses our immigration problems in a series of sequential pieces of legislation,” Rubio wrote.
Those components, he said, would have to address the problems of illegal immigration and a guest-worker program.
“It is my sincere belief that if we can bring illegal immigration under control and modernize our legal immigration system, then the American people and a majority of their representatives in Congress would be willing to reasonably and responsibly address the issue of millions of people currently in this nation illegally. It will not be easy. And it will not be unanimous. But if we can make real progress on stemming the tide of illegal immigration, I am convinced we will have the support necessary to address this serious issue once and for all,” the senator continued.
“All of this is why I have grown increasingly alarmed by news that your administration is considering sweeping executive action to give work permits to millions of people here illegally. If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future.”
Rubio offered as example Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) decision in 2012, which “was a major impediment to passage of the kind of immigration reform our nation needs.”
“No matter what we tried to do to institute meaningful enforcement measures in the Senate bill, opponents pointed to DACA as evidence of your unwillingness to enforce the law. They argued that no matter what we wrote into law on enforcement, your administration would simply ignore it,” he said. “Furthermore, your pursuit of unilateral action in the midst of an election year, without any concern for the policy ramifications, has played a significant role in the humanitarian and security crisis that has been occurring on our border with Mexico.”
Rubio said he understood Obama “inherited a broken system created after years of poor decisions made by both political parties in Washington.”
“But the cumulative result of six years of your administration’s approach on immigration reform is that, for all intents and purposes, America no longer has an immigration system. Instead, we have unsettling chaos,” he added. “I know you are receiving tremendous political pressure from certain activists to grant another unilateral, temporary and uncertain legal status to millions of additional undocumented immigrants. But to do so, without first taking any serious steps to address the border or protect American workers, will increase the perception of ambiguity in our laws, incentivize more people to immigrate here illegally, and significantly set back the prospects of real reform.”
Rubio stressed that “it saddens me that a nation of immigrants is divided by the issue of immigration.”
“At the heart of this issue are the people who are affected by it: the American worker whose wages are undercut by illegal workers. The rancher who lives in fear from the cartels and the coyotes. The brilliant young chemist who got her Ph.D. but can’t get a green card. The young mother risking everything to give her child a chance at a better life. The ‘dreamers’ who graduated at the top of their class but face an uncertain future. The Border Patrol agent who brought diapers and formula from his home to care for the children that have been pouring over the border. And the men and women across this country who ask, ‘If Washington can’t get this right, can they get anything right?'” he wrote.
“As someone who believes sincerely in the need for reform, is the son of immigrants, and lives in a community of immigrants, I still reserve some optimism that you’ll reject the politics of the moment and remember that the decisions you make will impact the people at the heart of this issue long after your duty to serve them has come to an end.”