Marco Rubio: Obama must confront unions if he wants to sign an immigration bill

Chris Moody

President Barack Obama must confront labor unions and accept a guest worker program as part of a broad immigration reform package if he intends to sign a bill this year, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who is leading Republican efforts on immigration, said Wednesday.

Speaking on the "Mark Levin Show," a radio program, Rubio outlined his vision for an immigration overhaul, suggesting that illegal immigrants should be required to wait several years before applying for citizenship if they want to remain in the U.S. legally.

According to his plan, which has not yet been introduced as a bill, illegal immigrants would first need to apply for a temporary work visa before becoming permanent residents. Congressional Democrats and labor unions, meanwhile, insist that any legislation should provide a more clear path to citizenship in a shorter amount of time than Rubio prescribes. But to reach a bipartisan consensus, Rubio said, Democrats would have to relent on the issue.

"The labor unions don't like that, and that's going to be a big fight the president is going to have to have if he's really interested in moving this forward," Rubio said. "They’re going to have a decision to make. And that decision is, do they want to play politics with this issue, do they want to get into a bidding war where they continue to move the ball and water it down? Or are they serious about solving it? And if they’re serious about solving it, then I think these are the sorts of principles they’d want to support."

Rubio added that enforcement of laws restricting businesses from hiring illegal immigrants would also be "nonnegotiable."

He said: "What we have right now is de facto amnesty. Because what we have right now is a system where the law is not being enforced."

Obama is encouraging Congress to take on immigration as a top priority in his second term.