Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says that under the immigration bill he is crafting with the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators, his parents would not have been able to immigrate to the United States.
In the bill, which is slated to be revealed this week, the immigration system reportedly will be reformed to place a greater emphasis on the skills and education of immigrants seeking to come to the U.S., and less emphasis on the familial ties that would-be immigrants have to those already in the country.
During a conference call with reporters Tuesday evening, Rubio was asked about the move away from what is often termed “family chain migration.”
“Well, first of all, I am going to say that’s actually how my parents came,” Rubio said. “Basically, the category my parents utilized to come to the U.S. was my aunt claimed my mom, and that would become impossible under the bill we’ve outlined,” he said.
“And the way I’ve reconciled that in my mind is that [when] my parents came in 1956, the world was a very different place. The economy in 2013 is just different. The world is just different. So our immigration system needs to reflect that. I think the reason why we need to address it is, quite frankly, because in the 21st century America needs to move towards a merit-based, jobs-based immigration system. It can no longer be a system simply based on who you know over here.”
Rubio said that while having family in the U.S. would still play a part in the immigration process, the emphasis under the Gang of Eight’s bill would be elsewhere.
“While that will continue to be a component of this plan, it can no longer be the singular focus of the immigration system — not given the reality of the 21st century, not given the reality of the global economy, not given the reality of our domestic economy,” he said. “And so, you know, I understand it is a big change, but I understand it is a necessary one.”