In preparation for a new round of Senate hearings on bipartisan legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration system, bill co-author Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is urging skeptical conservatives who oppose it to instead work to toughen measures such as border security.
Rubio, a Republican with one of the most conservative voting records in the chamber—and who rose to power with support from the tea party—has faced intense scrutiny from some conservative groups for his willingness to work with Democrats on writing the bill. On Friday, Rubio published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that called on them to work with him to rework the language in the bill. If they don't work with him on the legislation, Rubio warned, they will leave immigration reform to liberal Democrats, who he argued would legalize unlawful immigrants without balancing their approach with tougher border security.
"Conservatism has always been about reforming government and solving problems, and that's why the conservative movement should lead on immigration reform," he wrote. "The immigration-reform bill in the Senate is a solid starting point for solving this problem, and I believe it can be made even better as Congress begins to actively work on it in committee next week. But defeating it without offering an alternative cannot be the conservative position on immigration reform. That would leave the issue entirely in the hands of President Obama and leave in place the disastrous status quo."
Rubio is part of a bipartisan group of eight Senate lawmakers who last month released the initial language for an immigration bill that supporters hope will pass as early as this summer.