Sen. Rubio: Border security is 'linchpin' of reform

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 24, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome back to this special edition of "Hannity". And we are joined tonight by Senator Marco Rubio and a special panel of experts to talk about the always controversial topic of immigration reform.

But first, some of the conservatives in the country on their side of the aisle say that they support the idea of immigration reform but are worried about the details. Here, for example is Senator Rand Paul.


SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: It says well, you have to have a plan to build a fence. But you don't have to build a fence. And if you don't have a plan to build the fence then you get a commission. I don't know what happens if the commission doesn't do anything. That is the story of Washington around here. To me it is a little bit like Obamacare and I hate to bring that up but 1800 references to the secretary shall at a later date decide things.

We don't write bills around here. We should write the bill, we should write the plan, we should do these things to secure the border whether it will be fence, entry, exit, we should write it, not delegate it because what is going to happen in five years if they don't do their job it may not even be them it might be somebody else who doesn't do their job in five years and the border is not secure, we will be blamed for the next 10 million people who come here illegally.


HANNITY: Now, we continue with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, I think Senator Paul has a point here. I always think when it comes to spending cuts and tax increases, you always get the tax increase, you never get the spending cut.


HANNITY: Here we will going to find a path to a green card and then maybe citizenship but when are we going to get the borders secured for sure?

RUBIO: Well, a couple of things. And his point is generally well taken. There's a couple of points it needs to be cleared up. Number one, it doesn't just say, you can come up with a plan but not do it. You have to substantially complete that plan. You have a fence plan, it has to be

substantially completed. You have a border plan, it has to be substantially completed. E-verify must be fully completed. I mean, no substantial has to be done.

And the entry exit system has to be completely done before a single green card is given out. Here's the fundamental problem though. What people are saying is, we don't trust the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a good border plan, we don't trust the Department of Homeland

Security to come up with a good fencing plan and so maybe the alternative is to have the Congress do that. The point is that needs to happen. That is the linchpin of whether this will work or not.

HANNITY: OK. So, that is the biggest area of criticism. Are you working on changing that aspect though?

RUBIO: Absolutely. What I've told people all the time, and that is why we have the committee process.


RUBIO: You know, in the past certainly before I got to the Senate, what would happen is that people go to a room, they come up with a bill, they draw it up, and then it was a take it or leave it proposition. I'm not sure that is the way this is supposed to work. I think the way this works is, you have a group of people or maybe an individual senator or congressman write up a bill as a starting point but then you have 92 other colleagues in the case of this issue that have their own ideas, that come from their own experience and have their own ways that they want to see

this improvement.

So, we are in the process of doing that, it's in the committee now, the judiciary committee where it's going to have many more days of hearings and it has to go to the floor process not to mention the house.

HANNITY: Wouldn't you have a better, easier time selling this especially to conservatives that are concerned about a second third, fourth wave of illegal immigrants coming into the country if you just secure the border first, doesn't the law now mandate that?

RUBIO: Yes, the fundamental problem is, the law does mandate that we secure our border. The fundamental problem we have however is that we have 11-and-a-half to 11 million people in this country right now illegally most of whom we do not know who they are. Most of whom are not paying taxes or paying taxes sporadically. They're members of, you know, they're working in a black market economy or maybe they're getting paid cash or maybe they're working under someone else's social security number. And I believe it is our best interest to bring this people forward and identify them as soon as possible. Get them paying taxes, get them background checks for both national security and crimes, get them in a system where we know who they are, where they are and what they're doing.

HANNITY: No benefits.

RUBIO: No, they don't qualify, they wouldn't qualify for any federal benefits of any kind including Obamacare.

HANNITY: But are they immediately given at least some status, in other words, from the moment this bill would be passed, they would be able to stay in the country illegally. They have to come out of quote, "the shadows," they have to identify themselves. What else? Back ground checks.

RUBIO: Yes. So, you have to come forward. What you get by the way in -- for all I'm about to describe all you get is a temporary work permit that has to be renewed. It expires in six years. It didn't last for the rest of your lives. You've got to come back and re-apply for it. When you come forward, you will be background checked for both National Security and criminal purposes.

That includes the collection of biometric information like your fingerprint and so forth. You're going to be registered, you'll going to have to pay a fine, you'll going to have to pay the fee of that application. And then, you'll going to have to go out and be gainfully employed. Because in six years, when you come back to reapply for that permit, because you can't even apply for a green card for ten years if you haven't been gainfully employed and paying taxes, you will not be able to get reauthorized for that permit moving forward.

HANNITY: All right. So, in the interim in that six year period who is going to verify, ascertain, determine that the border has then been secured?

RUBIO: So, the way the plan is now is the Department of Homeland Security has to come up with a border plan and also a fencing plan. Two separate plans. I actually wanted them separate. Because there are some that don't like any fencing at all. They want to take the money and use it for technology. I think fencing is a critical component, not the only solution to the problem. But there are areas of the border where fencing will work. And so, they have to come up with these two plans.

HANNITY: Why do we trust Janet Napolitano when she says the border is secure?

RUBIO: Well, that's the problem, right? Here's the good news. The good news is, you will going to be there at most for three and a half years. Now, maybe she'll be replaced by somebody worse, maybe she'll be replaced by somebody better. But the point is that the first trigger in

this, these five years, they've got five years to substantially complete these two plans. Two of the years will be done by somebody else, not just them.

That being said. That's the point. You've hit on the exact point. And that is not just Janet Napolitano. People don't trust the federal government is going to come up with a good plan for the border. And what they say is make sure this happens right. If we can get that part of the bill right, I think people are willing to support immigration reform.

HANNITY: And you are thinking that maybe it wasn't the best idea to put it in Janet Napolitano's hands or the administration's hands. There is another alternative working its way?

RUBIO: Traditionally. That is usually the way it works. I mean, you have law enforcement officials whose jobs is to enforce the law, you tell them you must do this, here is the funding to do it and you allow them to go out and find the right technologies, the right mix of fence and technology to do the job. What we have found since the bill have been introduced, is that the lack of trust in the federal government by the way not made any better by the event of the last few days, things we've learned the federal government has done in other realms whether it's the IRS --

HANNITY: We will get to that. Yes.

RUBIO: The lack of trust in the federal government and in particular in this administration, makes it even harder to convince people that coming up with a plan like this on its own is good enough. So, maybe the solution is to have Congress actually write that plan for them.

HANNITY: All right. We will going to take a break. We'll come back. More with our panel of experts, they'll be asking questions of Senator Rubio as we continue.

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