Rubio pushes back on ‘amnesty phone’ rumor

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s radio show today, Sen. Marco Rubio pushed back against false rumors that immigrants would be given a free cell phone under the proposed immigration reform bill.

As Rubio explained, the provision is actually designed “to help rural citizens who live along the border [in remote regions] have access to communication equipment so they can call police and they can report border violence.”

Here’s a partial transcript:

Ingraham: “Alright, so let’s look at a couple of the other provisions in here so we understand what’s going on. In section 1107, are you familiar with that section?”

Rubio: “Well, go ahead. I mean, I don’t have it in front of me. So I don’t know the provisions but go ahead.”

Ingraham: “That’s alright. Eligibility for grants, because in 844 pages, as you can imagine, there’s quite a lot of interesting nuggets in here. You actually can be eligible for a grant for a phone, it looks like. A two year grant program to receive a cellular phone. And articles this morning, as you can imagine, are fairly amusing. ‘Move over Obama phone, this is the amnesty phone.’ What’s going on with that?”

Rubio: “That’s false. That’s not for the illegal immigrants. That’s for U.S. citizens and residents who live in the border region so that they can have access to calls. One of their complaints – that’s actually part of the Kyl border bill that we adopted. And what it does is it provides communication equipment to people who are living in the border region so they can report illegal crossings because many of them either don’t have phone service or don’t have cell phone service and they have no way of calling.”

Ingraham: “I know it’s not for the illegal immigrants, but it’s an outlay of money, is it not?”

Rubio: “Well again, that’s part of a border security package. That all of which is paid for by the fees and fines we are charging as part of this program. That is actually a border security measure that we have adopted and it’s involved to help rural citizens who live along the border that have access to communication equipment so they can call police and they can report border violence. Because one of the complaints we got from the border region is they don’t have any way to communicate with police or border patrol in time if they see something happening on the border. So this is designed to help in that regard. It’s not some effort to provide phone service to anybody.”

Ingraham: “That’s okay, that’s not really something that bothers me. I’m not even sure why that’s even in here, but I guess I get your point.”

Rubio: “Well the reason why that’s there is because the people on the border tell us…”

Ingraham: “They don’t have cell phones?”

Rubio: “Some of those regions don’t have cell phone coverage. They’re mountainous regions; they’re remote regions in rural areas of the border. Some of the most desolate places in the country, that’s why people cross illegally there.”

Ingraham: “Right and I understand that. It just seems to be those people who are the de facto who are enforcing the border, with the cell phones, to me its seems like it’s difficult.”

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Rubio’s ability to go to conservative media and repel false narratives may be why immigration reform turns out differently this time. Think about it. Could anyone else push back so effectively at a meme before it  fully spreads?

Audio of the interview (including the above excerpt) here:

Matt K. Lewis