WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Tighter border security must be one goal of U.S. immigration reform if the measure is to pass Congress, lawmakers who support the plan said yesterday as they tried to build support for a proposal that should be outlined in coming days.
The plan expected later this week envisions toughening border security to discourage new immigrants, while detailing clear steps that aspiring citizens can take if they are already in the country.
Senator Marco Rubio, a leader on immigration reform, said the reform plan will confront the sensitive question of how to treat those who have already entered the country illegally.
“This is not a theory. They are actually here,” the Republican said on CBS’ Face the Nation, of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Proposals to round up and deport undocumented residents are impractical, Rubio said, and existing immigration rules are being abused.
“What we have in place today is not good for anyone except human traffickers and people who are hiring illegal aliens and paying them less than American workers,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “This is an issue that needs to be solved.”
Rubio, a Cuban-American, is a leader of the so-called Gang of Eight, which has four Democrat and four Republican senators trying to address concerns of domestic industry, labor and other interests who want a voice in the immigration debate.
The first-term senator from Florida was a guest on several Sunday morning political talk shows pushing the immigration reform message.
“Part of my job is to explain to people what it is we’ve worked on, try to justify it and hopefully gain their support,” Rubio said on CNN’s State of the Union.