Things seemed to escalate quickly there. After a copy of the White House's back-up immigration reform bill leaked, Marco Rubio moved quickly to shoot down the bill's proposals to ensure his bipartisan effort remained the favored method to get this deal done.
USA Today's Alan Gomez first reported the White House bill would offer a new visa that would allow illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S. legally for four years, with an option for an extension. They would have an eight year window to apply to become a permanent resident if they learn English, U.S. history, and pay back taxes. The bill will also call for enhancements to border security, and an increased amount of immigration judges to deal with the influx of applications. It wasn't a complete draft of the bill and certain key details were left out, most notably what the bill would do to address immigration applications in the future.
The New York Times reported Sunday morning these are "early drafts," and that the White House would only submit its bill if the ongoing, separate bipartisan efforts in Congress and the Senate fail to produce anything. Only then would the President push his proposal forward.
But that didn't stop Marco Rubio from shooting down the President's proposals in a statement issued while he's working on an overseas trip in the Middle East. Rubio is one of the eight Senators currently working on a bipartisan immigration bill. He said the President's proposal was "half-baked," "seriously flawed," and that it "repeats the failures of past legislation." If submitted, Rubio said it would be pronounced dead-on-arrival if proposed to Congress:
"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."
That 'half-baked' like is a total shot at the President's past, no?
It's not surprising that Rubio, a rising face in the Republican party, would shoot this down. He wants, and needs, to support the work he's doing on the Senate deal. He knows Republicans can't afford to lose on immigration reform. Rubio chastised the President for drafting a solution without consulting Republican members of Congress, but a White House official reportedly told the Tampa Bay Times Republicans were consulted when drafting the bill. They also reiterated that this is merely a draft; it's incomplete legislation.
Which is exactly what the White House's official response tried to get across, too. The President will only submit this bill if everything else fails. The only question is how long he's planning on waiting for Congress or the Senate to act. "The president has made clear the principles upon which he believes any common-sense immigration reform effort should be based," White House spokesman Clark Stevens said in a statement. "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."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.