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EIB Interview: Why, Senator Rubio?

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We welcome back to the program Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.  I think he just hustled to our microphones here from a Senate vote, correct?

RUBIO:  Yeah, we did.  Still votin' on the gun legislation.

RUSH:  Gun legislation.  Senator, I know your time is limited here. I know you've got a very busy day. Let's get started.  I must tell you: I just don't understand this, Senator.  I don't understand why we're doing something that the Democrats are salivating over. I've never agreed with Senator Schumer about anything and I'm being told that I should on this.  I'm just having a tough time.  I look at what happened in California after the last amnesty. We lost that state to the Democrats.  I'm having trouble seeing how this benefits Republicans.

RUBIO:  Well, a couple things.  First of all, as far as Senator Schumer and others who are on the bill are concerned, I think the way to understand it is they've agreed to things that we believe in because they want our support. They understand it's important to get something done primarily because, not just in the Senate, but because in the House it's controlled by conservative Republicans.  As far as why we're dealing with the issue, let me just begin by saying, Rush, that if we didn't have a single illegal immigrant in the United States we'd still have to do immigration reform, for two reasons.

One, because our current legal immigration system is broken.  I think Americans support legal immigration. I know you do.  Legal immigration is good for America, if it's controlled and structured via the legal process, of course. But the problem is the system we have in place right now is broken.  For example, it is completely family based which means that it's based not on what you can do or what talent you have or what merit you bring or what job you could fill, but rather on whether you know someone who already lives here.

That needs to be reformed, and actually we do that.  The second is because our immigration laws are not enforced, and, in particular, we don't have an electronic verification system. So when people are hired they're basically hired using illegal documents.  We don't track people that are overstaying visas. So 40% of our illegal immigrants are people that entered legally and have overstayed.  And our border is not secure, and we know that is a national security and sovereignty issue as much as it is an immigration issue.  So, for those two reasons alone, we have to do something. 

And beyond it, I would just say it's not good for the country to have 11 million people here who we don't know who they are, where they're living. They're not paying taxes, but they're showing up in emergency rooms. They're driving up the cost of auto insurance 'cause they don't have driver's licenses and are getting into accidents. They're having children, which are US citizens.  So, I mean, it's an issue that needs to be dealt with -- and, beyond that, it's an issue the Democrats were gonna raise anyway. So we might as well have an alternative, and that's what we've worked on. Hopefully, we can keep it an alternative that we can support.

RUSH:  I want to stick with the politics of this for just a second.

RUBIO:  Yeah?

RUSH:  I heard what you say. 

RUBIO: Yeah.

RUSH: I understand. I have some questions for you about that, but the politics of this still fascinate me.  If you look at the 2010 election or 2012 election results. The percentage of the electorate that was Hispanic was 7%, and we got 27 or 28% of that vote.  The evangelical vote was about 28% of the electorate, and we got 78% of that. 

RUBIO:  Right.

RUSH:  The Republican Party seems to be saying, "We need to focus on the Hispanic vote and get rid of the social issues.  The social issues are killing us." But the Hispanic vote is not that big a percentage of the vote in order for the party to be totally turning upside down what it believes in.

RUBIO:  Well, Rush, you make an interesting point.  I would say two things to that.  Number one is, I agree with you that the evangelical... We should continue to be the pro-life and pro-traditional values party -- and I believe that, in fact, that will help us among Hispanic voters.  The second point I would make to you is that I understand that some voices in the Republican Party are saying we need to do immigration reform for political reasons.  I am not one of them per se.  This isn't my motivation. 

If people think that we pass this and tomorrow we go from 28% to 38% or 48%, that's just not accurate.  I do think it will help them... I do think it will help us make our argument for limited government, because people will now perhaps be willing to listen to us.  Right now, the Democrats just distract them. They basically say, "Well, you can't listen to Republicans on anything because they don't like people like you." It's unfair, but that's how they use this issue, and I'm sure they'll continue to try to use it in that way. 

But that should not be the reason why we do this.  I mean, if we are doing this for political reasons, I think we're gonna be disappointed, and it's not my motivation.  My motivation is I want to solve this problem for the country.  And beyond that, let me say that as far as what's happening in California and in other places with regards to the... You know, what's driving population growth in California among Hispanics, as it is around the country, is the birthrate. It's not immigration. 

And also I would say to that, that every political movement -- conservatism included -- depends on the ability to convince people that do not agree with you now to agree with you in the future.  And I think we have a very strong argument to make to people that are coming here to improve their lives and want to give their children a better life, that what they came here to get away from was big government -- and that, in fact, the only way for that to be possible is free enterprise and limited government.  It's a tough argument.  We gotta make it consistently over a significant period of time.  But I know it's one I've been successful making, and I believe we can be successful making it as a party.

RUSH:  You have been, and your personal story is a profoundly motivational and inspirational one, the one that you tell about your father.  But then I see polling data again that suggests that 70% of the Hispanic population in the country believes that government is the primary source of prosperity.  I don't, therefore, understand this contention that Hispanics are conservatives-in-waiting.

RUBIO:  Yeah.  Well, I don't think... Let me say a couple things.  First of all, I think the fastest... On the social issues, the fastest growing religious groups in America, some of the fastest growing churches are Christian -- or Hispanic evangelical churches, and I do think we have an opportunity on the social issues.  As far as the issue you explained with the 70% of Hispanics -- and I haven't seen that poll, but I've heard similar numbers in other places so I understand your point. I'd say that's a growing problem in America in general.  I think we have a growing problem in this country that too many people have forgotten what the true sense of prosperity is.

RUSH:  That's true.

RUBIO:  I think that's true across the board.  And let me tell you who I blame for that first and foremost.  I blame that primarily, quite frankly, on decisions made by the Republican Party in the past to embrace crony capitalism and corporate welfare as conservatism, when, in fact, that's not what we're about.  We are about upward mobility. We're about the true free enterprise system.  We're not about big companies being able to use the federal government to create rules and regulations that make it harder on their competitors. 

And I also think that while we've had multiple candidates in the past that have campaigned as limited-government conservatives, it's of course until it's their government program that they're trying to protect or what have you. So I don't think necessarily Republicans have always governed as the limited-government movement and the result is you see this kind of confusion in the American electorate about what the source of prosperity is.  We have to do a better job of explaining to all Americans that free enterprise is the only way to consistently create the kind of growth and opportunity that America's always been identified with.

RUSH:  Let's go to the bill.  The last time you were here, you were very certain -- you assured everybody -- that until the border was secure, there would not be legalization of a pathway to citizenship.  Now people who've seen the bill say that what actually happens is that the legalization does take place and that then there's a commission that has 10 years to figure out border security.  Which is true?

RUBIO:  Well, a couple points.  First of all, the legalization does not begin automatically.  We don't want to wait on legalizing, and I'll tell you why, and my original position was that we wanted to secure the border first and then legalize.  The problem is we have millions of people here now, by some estimates 10, 11 million.  We want to know who they are and freeze the problem in place.  I don't want that number to grow.  It behooves us to know who they are as soon as possible, so it doesn't get worse.  What we do is we say the Department of Homeland Security -- and this gets tricky, so it's important to follow me on it, because I gotta explain the path.  There's actual multiple triggers here. 

The Department of Homeland Security has come up with two plans: one to secure the border and one to build fencing.  It has to be both, and they have to not only come up with the plans which will be reviewed by the border commission on the advisory role and also the General Accounting Office, which is a nonpartisan, very serious agency of government to ensure that it achieves the following goal: a hundred percent awareness of border, 90% apprehension.  They have five years to meet that standard.  If in five years the border is not 90% apprehension, 100% awareness, they lose control of the border issue to a commission that is not a Washington commission. It is a commission that will largely be driven by the governors of the border states. 

I have full confidence that the governors of these border states -- talking about Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, obviously California as well, but particularly Arizona and Texas, which are the ones most impacted by it now -- these governors will take care of this problem and they'll be given money to be able to take care of it.  In addition to that, eVerify becomes mandatory for every business in America, starting with the biggest companies, and the entry-exit system becomes mandatory.  We will track the entry and the exit of all visitors to the United States at all of our airports and seaports.  And all of those things must happen before a single green card is issued to those that are waiting through the regular RPI status, as we call it, the provisional status that we've created.  And so these are triggers that really must happen, and obviously I think it's a vast improvement over what we have now.

RUSH:  We're talking with Senator Marco Rubio.  Gotta take a brief time-out here.  I know your schedule is jam-packed today.  If you can't make it to the bottom of the half hour, you say so and it won't be a problem. I'll take a brief time-out now and we'll be back with Senator Rubio right after this.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  And we're back on the Rush Limbaugh program with Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, and we're talking about the upcoming legislation involving immigration.  Senator, I know you say that the political aspects of this are not yours, but so many people are scared to death, Senator, that the Republican Party is committing suicide, that we're going to end up legalizing nine million automatic Democrat voters, and that's why the Democrats are so adamant. We don't understand why the Republicans are so eager to make that happen.  We seem to be wanting to reach out to Hispanics.  Once we do everything we do to reach out to Hispanics, how can we ever reform welfare?  How can we reform anything that we might want to change if it's the product of reaching out to Hispanics, giving them what we think they want in order to get their votes, when they're already gonna vote Democrat?

RUBIO:  Well, a couple things I would say about that.  First of all, I'm not prepared to admit that somehow there's this entire population of people that because of their heritage are not willing to listen to our pitch on why limited government is better.  As I said at the outset, this is an argument that right now unfortunately I think we are losing in many sectors of our society.  We have young people that have somehow grown up, and we can chalk it up to what the schools are teaching or they're seeing in the mass media, but people who have grown up to believe that government is the source of prosperity. That the way to grow our economy is for the government to spend more.

That's always been a challenge 'cause it's a lot easier to sell people on a government program than it is to sell 'em on free enterprise and limited government.  It's easier to promise that that's for sure, but I think the evidence is on our side.  Once we explain to people the reality of this, I think we can convince anyone, certainly I think we can convince a lot of people in America. I think the future of conservatism, and, in fact, I think the future of America depends on how effective we are at explaining to as many Americans as possible why the road we are on right now is such an economic disaster, and I just refuse to accept the notion that somehow we're not gonna be able to make that argument successfully to Hispanics. 

I imagine in places like California and New York, where there's a large segment of Hispanics that also happen to live in very liberal communities, it will probably be a heavier lift.  But in places like Florida, Texas, Virginia, and other places throughout the country, where there's a growing Hispanic population not tied to these traditional centers of liberalism, I think we have a very compelling story to tell.  The evidence shows that Hispanics are heavily entrepreneurial.  And I know this.  The more taxes people pay, the more that they own, the more they have at stake in the economy, the more conservative and more limited government they become, and I've seen that with my own eyes.

RUSH:  Well, I have, too, within certain years, certain eras of this country's history.  We're not in the era like that now.  We're in an era where seemingly more people are low-information than ever before and are more susceptible -- Senator, look at the number of people not working.  I mean, 90 million people are not working.  But they're all eating, they've all got phones, they've all got TV sets and so forth.  They are being supported.  They are able to live sufficiently well enough that getting a job is not that important, not nearly as important.  It's a cultural thing that's happening here. 

And we're going to throw immigration reform in this mix right now.  I understand your objectives, and they're really admirable, and I totally wish you all the luck and all the best with it.  We need people like you fighting for these kind of things.  There's no question.  But you said something earlier at the top of the interview that the immigration system is broken, there are 11 million people, whatever, we don't know who they are, and we've gotta fix it.  Why?  What is it about right now that says, forget everything else fails I've asked you, forget the political ramifications I've asked you about.  Why does it need to be fixed right now?

RUBIO:  First of all, a couple things. If it was up to me, if I controlled the flow of business in the Senate we would be focused on tax reform and how to get our economy growing again and how to get the debt under control. But the reality is the Democrats are gonna raise the issue of immigration. So, if they're going to raise this issue and force us to address it, then we have to have an alternative --

RUSH:  Why, why can't we just defeat it? Why do we have to address it because they raise it?

RUBIO:  If they raise the issue of immigration we can't just vote against it.  I think one of the things unfortunately that's happened in the past is, for example, Obamacare was raised. 

RUSH:  Well, we did gun control.  We just voted down gun control.

RUBIO:  Well, not only voting it down, we've offered very good alternatives.  For example, one of the things that was voted down yesterday was an amendment by Senator Cruz and Senator Grassley that actual is meaningful stuff that focuses on the real problem, which is not guns, the real problem is violence.  And we have an alternative that actually focuses -- of course, people didn't hear about this because the mainstream media won't report on it, but we actually offer some very good alternatives about increasing prosecutions for criminals that are violating the background check, existing background check laws, you know, how to strengthen our mental health systems, et cetera, and no one's reporting on that stuff. So it's important to have an alternative and, I think, unfortunately, on immigration, if it arises, we need to have an alternative, too, because we do have things that are wrong with the immigration system. 

RUSH:  So, what about enforcing current law as an alternative? 

RUBIO:  Well, the problem with the current law and I think that's accurate, I mean people have violated the current law, there's gonna be a consequence for that.  You know, it's a misnomer to believe -- some people believe if you're illegally in the country now you can never become a citizen.  That's not true.  Under existing law, if you are illegally here, you can become a citizen.  The law says you have to leave the country and in 10 years you can get a green card and once you get a green card you can become a citizen in three to five years.  And all we're saying is, okay, here's the reality, people have screwed up in government. They haven't enforced our laws so now we have 11 million people here, and they're not going to leave. They've been here too long, most of them over a decade. What do we do with them, instead of telling them to leave, which they're not gonna do, what can we do to get them to come forward and identify themselves?

And the answer is they have to undergo a background check. They have to pay a fine for what they've done wrong. They have to wait more than 10 years, and they have to start paying taxes. Their legalization is not permanent. It is a renewable legalization that expires in six years. So they have to go back and renew it where they have to prove that they're gainfully employed, that they're not a public charge.  They don't qualify for any federal benefits including Obamacare, no welfare, no food stamps. Or the alternative is to leave it the way it is now, and the way it is now is terrible. It's not good for anybody.  The only people benefiting from the way it is now are the people that are bringing them across the border or the people that are hiring labor at the expense of the American worker because they can pay these guys less.

RUSH:  You said something key a moment ago and I --

RUBIO:  Yes.

RUSH:  -- want to explore it.  You said that as the Democrats propose it, we can't just ignore it, we have to offer alternatives.  Now, you're a freshman in the Senate so this is not a comment directed at you, but I have been, just as a commentator and an observer, I've been amazed. The Democrats propose anything, and we have to accept it, that becomes the news of the day, the item of the day. We somehow have to be in favor of it, but we're gonna make alternatives.  Why can't we just oppose something that they propose, such as Obamacare.  Why did we have to offer alternatives? I know you weren't there then, but why do we have to offer alternatives?  They are proposing things that we intrinsically disagree with, why can't we just say no?

RUBIO:  Well, a couple things.  We have opposed, for example, their infringement upon the Second Amendment.  On the other hand, you know, our existing laws, we have people right now that are criminals, they're going in and trying to buy a gun, they fail the existing background check and nobody prosecutes them.  That's a problem.  They should enforce that and we had an amendment that would force them to do that. We do have people that are mentally ill in this country that shouldn't be able -- and everyone agrees with that, but also what about violence?  No one's talking about violence.  All this focus on what they're using to commit the violence and no one's asking the fundamental question of why have we become a society where these acts of violence are happening so frequently?  Of course the answer is societal breakdown, and you can't legislate that. 

I mean, there are things you can do to strengthen your society but you can't force people to be better parents or believe in God or anything like that.  On the immigration front, you talk to the business community, you talk to people in our economic system, look, if I were to say to you today, and I know you're a big sports fan, so if I were to say to you today, you know, if someone can throw 99-mile-an-hour fastballs into the strike zone consistently you know we're going to bring 'em here. There's no way in the world we're not going to.  If someone is six-foot-eight and can, you know, dunk basketballs and never misses a 20-foot jump shot, you know we're gonna keep them. But we're not doing that for science and technology. We're asking some of the --

RUSH:  Yeah, but that's a whole different thing --

RUBIO:  Yeah.

RUSH:  -- than what we're talking about with illegal immigration. We got 30 seconds, by the way, I want to give it to you to wrap up.

RUBIO:  Well, that has to do with the immigration reform and modernizing the system. Look, here's the bottom line.  We're not gonna deport 11 million people.  The status quo is amnesty, and that's why we've come up with a process where these folks have to come forward, undergo a background check, pay a fine, start paying taxes, not qualify for federal benefits, and wait 11 years, and then the only thing they get is the chance to apply for a green card.  They still have to qualify for it.  I know it's not perfect, but it's a lot better than what we have right now.

RUSH:  Senator Marco Rubio, Florida, really, as always, appreciate your time.

RUBIO:  No, Rush, thanks for having me.

RUSH:  You bet.  I appreciate your straightforwardness, a straight shooter. 

END TRANSCRIPT

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