U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said the issue of immigration is being used by both Republicans and Democrats for political purposes in an election year rather than finding a real solution for the complex problem that affects millions of people.
"Why is this issue simplified? I will tell you right now. Because it is powerful politics. It is a powerful political issue," Rubio told the Hispanic crowd of 1,200 meeting at the annual convention for NALEO -- the National Association of Latino and Elected Officials. "How did we ever get to this point? How can immigration be a controversial and divisive issue in a nation of immigrants?"
President Barack Obama last week initiated an executive order that essentially took major parts of a conservative DREAM Act plan Rubio had proposed to ameliorate the process for undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children by their parents. The move by the president placed the issue of immigration, and subsequently Latino voters at the forefront of political headlines this week.
"I don't care who gets the credit. I don't,” Rubio said. “But it exposes that this issue is all about politics for some people. Not just Democrats, Republicans too.”
Rubio also chided critics who consider immigration reform proposals as a slight against the Latino community.
“Anyone who disagrees with their ideas on illegal immigration is anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic. That's ridiculous. Ridiculous,” Rubio said. “Everything is about politics. "
Rubio, who released a new book called "American Son", also repeatedly emphasized that both parties needed to find common ground on the divisive issue in order to find a middle ground and a reform policy that works.
“As long as this issue of immigration is a political ping pong that each side uses to win elections and influence votes I'm telling you it won't get solved,” Rubio said.
The Florida senator mostly avoided criticism of President Obama who spoke later in the day. However at point, it seemed like he could not resist.
“The president hasn't been here three years and it's election year, why didn't he make this priority," Rubio said to some laughter in the crowd. “I guess I just did."
Serafin Gomez is a White House Producer for FOX News Channel, who also covered the 2016 election as a Special Events & Politics producer and former special campaign correspondent for Fox News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Florida Politics & Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo