Senator Marco Rubio is “increasingly optimistic” that he’ll win the 2016 presidential election, but he understands that he’ll have to overcome the conservative frustration with his work on the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill to do so.
“You don’t have a right to illegally immigrate here,” the Florida Republican said during a discussion with NR’s Jim Geraghty at the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit in Washington, D.C. this morning. Rubio made the statement while discussing changes that he would make to the Gang of Eight bill if he were to take on immigration as president.
“And one of the problems I have with the groups out there that are advocating for immigration reform, some of them, is they approach this debate with the argument that they have a right to be here,” he said. “It’s not a right . . . there is no right to illegally immigrate anywhere in the world.”
Rubio said that President Obama’s executive orders on immigration created a magnet for illegal immigration and exacerbated the border crisis, making it necessary to secure the border and take other steps to prevent illegal immigration. With that accomplished, he supports requiring illegal immigrants who have been in the country for at least 10 years to pay a fine, go through a background check, and learn English.
“And in exchange for all of that, what you would get is the equivalent of a non-immigrant, non-permanent work visa to be in the U.S. and you would have to be in that status for a significant period of time,” Rubio said. “And at some point, if you choose, you could apply for permanent residency, but you’d have to do it through that modernized legal immigration system and you’d have to do it just like everybody else, not a special process or anything of that nature.”
The would-be immigration reformer added that most people who went through such a process pursuant to Ronald Reagan’s 1986 immigration overhaul did not go on to become citizens.Rubio didn’t devote the whole conversation to immigration. After discussing the tax plan that he has written with Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), and Social Security and Medicare reforms that he feels need to be passed, he also pointed to another crisis in the making.
“In 2016, our disability insurance program goes bankrupt; basically, it will only be able to pay out about 85 percent of what people are entitled to under the law,” he said. “That is a new entitlement crisis that has not been talked about enough, that our disability insurance is also on the verge of a cataclysmic problem, and that’s literally a year and a half away.”
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.