Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rubio blasts Obama for resistance to border security provision in immigration plan

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Hours before President Obama is set to deliver a major immigration speech, a key Republican senator blasted the president for reportedly opposing a requirement to shore up border security before legalizing up to 11 million illegal immigrants.Â

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of four Republican senators involved in a bipartisan effort to craft immigration reform legislation, warned the president Tuesday against taking such a position. It was the first sign since the senators unveiled their guidelines a day earlier of friction between the two efforts.Â

"I think that would be a terrible mistake," Rubio told Fox News. "We have a bipartisan group of senators that have agreed to that. For the president to try to move the goalposts on that specific requirement, as an example, does not bode well in terms of what his role's going to be in this or the outcome."Â

Rubio, a prominent conservative who is also Hispanic, is vital to the bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill. The senator, though, insisted that illegal immigrants not be allowed to obtain green cards -- let alone citizenship -- "until the enforcement stuff is in place."Â

"If that's not in the bill, I won't support it," he said.Â

Rubio was responding to reports that Obama, who is traveling to Las Vegas Tuesday to outline his immigration reform vision, does not want to make the legalization process contingent on increased border security.Â

Rather, the administration is looking at a smoother process. One administration aide said illegal immigrants would be required to pay back taxes and a fine, and move to the back of the line after would-be legal immigrants, in order to apply for legal status and eventually citizenship.Â

In Obama's earlier proposal, which he is expected to largely follow, he also says thoseapplying for citizenship must learn English. After eight years, individuals would be allowed to become legal permanent residents and could eventually become citizens five years later.Â

The issue of immigration reform was put on the back burner during Obama's first term -- overtaken by debate over health care legislation and economic measures. But along with gun control, it is one of the top items on his second-term domestic agenda.Â

The eight U.S. senators got ahead of him Monday, unveiling a blueprint that calls for, among other things, a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.Â

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president "welcomes" the proposal, saying it represents the "bipartisan support coalescing" behind certain principles of immigration reform.Â

"This is an important first step. ... We need to continue the movement," Carney said.Â

Despite the difference over the path to legal status, an Obama administration official told Fox News the senators' plan is on a trajectory that mirrors Obama's immigration plan in many ways, and that the White House is willing to let the group take the lead.Â

READ MORE http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/29/obama-presses-immigration-agenda-as-senators-draft-new-overhaul/