Fox News
June 19, 2013

Rubio addresses conservatives' concerns with immigration reform bill

Guests: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: There are some major developments to report regarding the Senate immigration reform bill. In a moment, Florida Senator Marco Rubio will join me live from Washington with reaction.

But first, in the last 24 hours, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis on the legislation. Now, let's take a moment to review their findings. First, some good news for those supporting the bill. The CBO score concluded it would cut the budget deficit by as much as $200 billion in the first 10 years if it's implemented.

However, some other headlines have not been so positive. For example, if enacted the bill would quote, "Slightly raise the unemployment rate through 2020." In addition, average wages would drop over the next decade. However the scoring notes that they might begin increasing after the year 2025.

Now, The Washington Times also reports that the cost of ObamaCare would rise significantly, however those costs would be offset they say by an increase in revenue. Now, why? Because it's estimated that 10.4 million new residents would be added over the next decade.

And joining me now with reaction, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, welcome back to the program.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: Senator, I'm sure you are aware there is a lot of anger in the conservative community over this bill because the feeling is this bill does not do what it said it would do and that is secure the border first. Your reaction.

RUBIO: Well, first of all, let me -- obviously the border security is critical but here's why it's critical. America is a special country. People want to come here from all over the world. In fact, it's so special that some people are willing to come here and risk their lives to come illegally. We understand that. But on the other hand, we're a sovereign country. And every sovereign country on the planet has a right to defend its border and its sovereignty.

And so, that's why border security is so critical. And that's why we're going to have to step up what we do on border security. And that's' why it was one of the founding principles of this bill when it came out was at the border security needed to be a prominent feature of this bill.

Now, since we've introduced it, and you know that on your show I've done this and another shows, I've asked people for their input. We've asked people for their input. And they've raised valid concerns about what's wrong with the proposal as it stands on border security.

So, I think here over the next few hours, there's going to be additional news to report on the work of some of my Republican colleagues to significantly and substantially increase the border security parts of the bill.

HANNITY: All right. You said in a Univision interview Senator that got a lot of play and a lot of anger among conservatives. You said, quote, "Legalization is going to happen. First comes legalization, then comes measures to secure the border." Is that the right priority, shouldn't it be secure the border first?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, that's not what the bill does. And how the bill works is, the permanent residency, which is the ability to stay in the country permanently and one day even apply for citizenship, for that to happen, E-Verify has to happen, an entry exit tracking system has to happen and all sorts of border provisions, including the ones that are going to be hopefully announced tomorrow, that some of my Republican colleagues are going to produce. All those things must happen before anyone can possibly who violated our immigration laws before they can apply for permanent status.

What some people have anxiety about is the fact that there are people living here now in the United States who are going to begin to work legally in the United States before all of that is completed. But the way to look at it and the way that I've looked at it is, they are already here. They are here now and they're working here now. The only difference if this passes is, we'll know who they are. They will have undergone a background check, they will have paid a fine and they're going to be paying taxes.

If we don't deal with that now, it will stay the way it is. In an essence it is de facto amnesty, it will stay that way for three or four years. And I just think that's bad for the country. Now, as far as being permanently here, they cannot be permanently here. They cannot be permanently here until those important elements that I've discussed, until those things happen.

HANNITY: All right. Senator, you mentioned twice now what we might here tomorrow about the bill. I have a source in Washington that told me earlier tonight that tomorrow there's going be a huge border security amendment added to the bill. I don't know what you're able to confirm here tonight. I'm told that the number of agents will be doubled. I'm told that there will be a completion of the seven hundred mile fence. That all the technology issues, e-verify, entry-exit, over staying issues, that all of this will be done and they will all be triggers before there's any legalization or path to a green card.

Can you confirm any of that?

RUBIO: Well, what I can tell you is that we have some Republican colleagues here in the Senate that have been working very hard based on the public input that people are getting, and believe me, we're getting it like you're getting it on the show about how we can improve border security, and they have been working hard to come up with their proposal. And I know they are still finalizing that and I'll leave it to them to announce it because they've worked so hard on it.

But let me just say that what I think you can expect to see tomorrow is a substantial improvement, a substantial improvement in the border security parts of this bill and we think that's important for the reasons I've outlined. This is not about anti-immigrants or anything or trying to be tough on anybody. We're a sovereign country and every sovereign country in the world has a right to protect its borders and who has access to the country. Every country in the world does that, why would we expected not to do that?

HANNITY: Senator, I think a lot of people were surprised that in previous interviews that I had with you, you said you would secure the border first. But a number of amendments have been voted on that would do just that, a couple of yesterday, and you voted against them.

RUBIO: The reason why Sean is because I think the proposals needs to go even further. For example, one of the criticisms we've heard from the public input is that the bill leaves it to the Department of Homeland Security to design the plan. So did some of these amendments, although, they're very well intentioned and I think I know what they were trying to get at and they were positive in that regard. But we don't, I don't want to leave the plans and design, based on all of these criticisms and the -- we've gotten.

We don't want to leave it to Janet Napolitano to design the border plan. We want to put it specifically in the bill. That's one example -- that's one of the reasons quite frankly why I didn't support those amendments because I think what my Republican colleagues are going to produce tomorrow is going to be substantially better.

HANNITY: So, you're saying, you knew that these other changes were coming.

Maybe I should ask you a finality question. If you're not convinced that the border will be secure so this problem is gone forever, is that a deal killer for you?

RUBIO: Yes. It's not worth doing the bill if that doesn't happen because border security -- again I try to remind everybody the reason why border security is so important is not because we're trying to be mean or harsh towards anyone, it's because of the sovereign country we have an obligation and a right to protect our borders and access to our country. America is a special country. We understand why people want to come here. And we feel sympathetic to people because of desperation in their home countries, they come here, risk their lives and what have you, but we can't allow that to happen because if you lose that you lose your sovereignty.

And that's why it is so critical that the border elements in this bill be right. In order for it to have the kind of supported deserves, quite frankly in order for me to be involved in the issue to begin with, without the border security being a top priority, that's not something I could have even started working on because it leaves the problem in place.

HANNITY: Are you telling conservatives then to be patient with you, that the bill is not finished and maybe they've read too much into it too early?

RUBIO: Well, I think conservatives have a right to be skeptical about this. The federal government under both Republicans and Democrats in the past have failed to enforce our immigration laws. That's why we have 11 million people here that are illegally here.

I just honestly concluded -- look, it's obvious I didn't do this for political gain. I mean, this is not something that's going gain me any parades. People are frustrated. And I do understand it. What I hope they understand is that I studied this issue carefully for almost two years. And I concluded that what we have in place right now is a disaster. It is hurting this country terribly. And if we don't deal with this problem and particularly with the border security, but also identifying these people that are living in our country and start getting them to pay taxes and consequences for having violated our laws, we're going to leave in place a disaster, a de facto amnesty disaster that's hurting our economy, it's hurting our sovereignty, it's hurting our security.

HANNITY: Yes. You know, I guess the reason for the distrust, every time for example we hear that there's going to be spending reined in and tax increases American people seem to always get the tax increase but they never get the spending cuts. So, I guess you understand that distrust.

RUBIO: I do. And that's why those things are linked. That's why the permanent residency with the green card -- that's why that won't happen unless these border provisions happened first.

HANNITY: All right.

RUBIO: And that I think will be made clear tomorrow when that amendment is filed hopefully in the morning.

HANNITY: Can I just get you maybe to reiterate, because there's been so much debate about this. You're saying that you're pretty confident tomorrow that the border will be secure first with triggers before there's any path to legalization?

RUBIO: Before there's any path to permanent residency, permanent legal residency in the United States. You have 11 million people that are living here right now. We have to find out who they are, we have to run them through a background check and they have to start paying taxes and they have to pay a fine. But that's not permanent. And that's a temporary work status. The only difference between what they are doing now and what I'm proposing is that they have to pay taxes and undergo a background check. They are already here. They're here among us.

HANNITY: I keep hearing that the House is talking about bifurcating it and saying, all right, we'll pass the border security first and then soon as that is complete, then we'll move forward with dealing with the 11 million people. If in fact they pass that and it goes to conference, would you support that?

RUBIO: Yes. Listen, we can't do anything without the House. Now, I'm not going to tell the House what to do. House members have strong opinions about this. And they're going to go in the direction they feel is right for the country. That's the other thing people have to remember. Even if we finish the Senate process, it still has to go through the house in a lengthy process. There will be plenty of time for debate and improvement here. I think the House is already thinking about ideas and about how to make it better. And quite frankly, they have their own criteria in all of this.

HANNITY: Senator, thank you for clarifying.

RUBIO: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: We look forward for this announcement tomorrow. Thank you for giving us a heads up about it.

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