Rubio, McCain, Reid Talk Strategy on Reform Bill

By Jerry Kammer, June 10, 2013

Some excerpts from Sunday morning's "Al Punto" program on Univision, where Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded to questions from host Maria Elena Salinas:

Salinas to Rubio: You said this week that you would be inclined to vote against the legislation that you yourself helped to write unless there were some amendments that would strengthen even more the security of the border. Would you be willing to throw everything overboard?

Rubio: No, I am 100 percent committed to the issue of migration, immigration reform. To the contrary, I am going to continue working to ensure that that does not happen. My point is that if we can't secure the border, if we can't take the steps necessary to win the confidence of our colleagues, this is never going to become law, and we are wasting our time. But I don't think we're going to reach that point. I simply think that if we achieve a reasonable means … to secure the border and prevent any kind of other wave of illegal immigration in the future, we will have more than enough votes.

Rubio, responding to the concern that legalization might be delayed and therefore be subjected to the policies of future administrations: Let's be clear. Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence. What we're talking about here is the system of permanent residence. As for the legalization, the enormous majority of my colleagues have accepted that it has to happen and that it has to begin at the same time we begin the measures for [the border]. It is not conditional. The legalization is not conditional.

McCain, responding to Salinas' observations about the buildup of the Border Patrol in recent years: I agree with you that the border is more secure. But I would also argue that, looking at the flow of drugs and now the increase of illegal crossings partially due to the improved economy, that it is not secure. That is where the Secretary of Homeland Security and I are in disagreement. But we need to show our colleagues that we are taking sufficient steps, particularly with the use of technology. It's not people on the border. We now have 21,000 Border Patrol agents. It is the use of technology for surveillance.

Reid, responding to Salinas' question as to whether he has 60 votes committed to the bill: I believe we do. I really, seriously believe we do. … We have more than 90 percent of the Democrats. All we need is a little help from the Republicans.

Reid on his personal commitment to the bill: This is very personal to me. My father-in-law, my wonderful wife's dad, immigrated from Russia. We are a nation of immigrants. … We are going to pass this legislation. It's the right thing to do.