President Barack Obama must be willing to accept border security measures as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package or else "there won't be a solution," Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a leader of the GOP reform effort, said on Tuesday.
Rubio, who on Monday unveiled a blueprint for an immigration overhaul as part of a bipartisan group of eight senators, said Obama must embrace the principles in the outline. The president was announcing his own vision for immigration reform on Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas.
"He can either decide that he wants to be part of the solution, or he can decide he wants to be part of a political issue and try to trigger a bidding war. I'm not going to be part of a bidding war to see who can come up with the most lenient path forward," Rubio said during an interview on Rush Limbaugh's radio program before Obama's speech. "If he's gone to Las Vegas to give a speech and try to trigger a bidding war, then no, it doesn't bode well. There won't be a solution. We'll just continue to have what we have now, because that issue I think is a bright line for most of us that are involved in this effort. Unless there's real enforcement triggers, we're not going to have a bill that moves on."
Rubio's appearance on Limbaugh's radio show, a program that boasts the largest audience of conservative listeners in the country, is part of a media campaign to urge conservatives to join his efforts to change the nation's immigration system. Some prominent Republicans, including Limbaugh, have expressed concern that the bill will ultimately amount to "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. Rubio argued that it was important for Republicans to contribute ideas to the effort so their views won't be "defined" by Democrats.
"I thought it was critically important that we outline the key principles," Rubio said.
The eight senators leading the effort agreed that a major immigration bill would require that the country's borders be "secured" before illegal immigrants already living in the country be offered a pathway to citizenship or permanent residency. During Obama's first term, his administration deported more illegal immigrants than any other president, an effort that has drawn criticism from liberal immigration reform activists.
While the general outline of the priorities in the Senate immigration bill were made public on Monday, it will be about a month for a bill to be formally introduced to the chamber. The senators leading the effort expect the early language of the measure to reach the Senate by March, and they are aiming for passage in early summer at the latest.