After a brief lull, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is again hitting the right-wing media circuit to sell the so-called Gang of Eight's immigration-reform plan, which has all but been released. His office this afternoon sent out a transcript of an interview with Michael Medved.
But Rubio's office didn't send out a copy of a letter that, according to the conservative Breitbart website, Rubio issued to the Tea Party Patriots who protested at a Florida office and accused him of supporting a bill that's going to be rammed through Congress.
The Martin County 9/12 Tea Party Committee also protested. And not all tea partiers are upset, as Rubio's office points out. Indeed, there's a faction of the extreme right (as with the left, but not to as great a degree, it seems) that's never satisfied.
“First, there is absolutely no truth to the idea that I will support any immigration legislation that is rushed through Congress in typical Washington fashion,” Rubio wrote. “Already, I have fought and continue to fight to secure commitments for greater transparency through committee hearings and mark-up sessions that will allow senators on the Judiciary Committee ample opportunities to review and amend any immigration legislation before it is considered by the full Senate for additional debate and scrutiny. As a result, not only has the Judiciary Committee agreed to delay its first hearing on this issue, it has agreed to add an additional one next week.”
Medved's interview was decidedly less confrontational. Here's the transcript provided by Rubio's office:
Michael Medved: “A few minutes more with Senator Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida who is leading the fight to fix an immigration system that has become a dysfunctional nightmare. Senator, for people who say the conservative position really should be defending our current immigration system or enforcing our current laws more effectively, what do you say?”
Senator Marco Rubio: “A couple things. First of all, our current laws are dysfunctional in terms of we have a legal immigration system that’s just completely broken. Actually it’s one of the contributors to illegal immigration. The idea that we should enforce our laws, I agree with one hundred percent, no doubt about it. But we need to recognize that our current system of immigration is broken. It is not a 21st century immigration system. One of the things we do in this bill is we change that. We move it away from a family-based system, which is basically based on whether you know someone in the United States or not, and we move it towards a merit-based system, where our immigration is actually going to be about attracting people who have skills or talents or a job waiting for them here, and have something to contribute to the economy. And so I think that’s one of the reason’s I think we need to do immigration reform.
“The second problem we have that is encouraging illegal immigration is we don’t have a viable temporary worker program. And so, for example, agriculture needs temporary workers. These are jobs that sometimes Americans won’t do. And there’s no way to legally get that workforce. And so if you have a supply of people willing to do that job, a demand for those jobs, and no legal way for the two to meet, they’re going to meet illegally. And that’s what we have now. So to defend the current system, I think is a terrible mistake.
“And last but not least, we have a reality that we have 11 million people in this country that are here illegally. And the question is, what do we do about it? Now, if anyone believes that we can round up 11 million people and deport them, then they should advocate that. If they believe that what we should do is make life miserable for them so they’ll deport themselves, then they should advocate that. I personally don’t believe that either one of those strategies will happen or can work.”
Medved: “Maybe we can concentrate on making life miserable for the people who are gang bangers, who are coyotes, who are drug dealers. There are some people here like that, but that’s not most of the illegals.”
Rubio: “That’s why if we can have a legalization process where we can identify people, we can put them through a background check, we can make them pay a fine, we can make them be gainfully employed and pay taxes, we deny them any sort of federal benefits so they are not here for welfare – or anything like that. Our bill does all of those things. Then you can focus your law enforcement resources on the people that fail the background checks, on the criminals, on the gang bangers, on the people who are actually here to take advantage of our social welfare systems. Because now there will be less people to concentrate on and you can fully focus on them. That’s one of the reasons why we need to deal with this. And the most important thing we have to ensure is that this never happens again. We cannot be here 10 years from now with another 10 million illegally here.”
Medved: “And that is so profoundly true and so important. Marco Rubio, appreciate your clarity, your courage, your conviction on this issue which is crucial to the economic future of the United States.”