Sen. Marco Rubio Pushes Immigration Bill, Denies Awarding Amnesty

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida appeared on a series of talk shows this Sunday to promote the new immigration reform bill, which took months of crafting among bipartisan politicians and will be presented on Tuesday at the earliest.

Rubio has persistently stressed that this upcoming immigration reform bill will not simply "award" citizenship to those who have lived in the U.S. illegally, but rather provide a fair opportunity for them to pursue a path to citizenship.

"This bill does three things that are fundamentally important for our country," Rubio, a Republican, told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"It modernizes our legal immigration system, something we need to do no matter what. It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the U.S., potentially in the world, and it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally, but does so in a way that's fair and compassionate, but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future, and isn't unfair to people who have done it the right way," Rubio added on "Face the Nation."

"Even if we didn't have a single person in this country in violation of immigration laws, we'd still have to do immigration reform," Rubio said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The Florida senator appeared on a total of seven Sunday talk shows on ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC, Telemundo and Univision to speak on the new immigration reform bill.

Rubio again stressed to The Associated Press on Sunday: "We're not awarding anybody anything. All we're doing is giving people the opportunity to eventually earn access to our new, improved and modernized legal immigration system."

Rubio is one member of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" which has worked out a compromise and created a proposal for immigration reform laws in the U.S.

The Gang of Eight U.S. Senate group has reportedly worked for months to agree on the principles of its immigration reform overhaul, and is currently waiting for written legislation to be produced before they publicly unveil the plan, which they are slated to do Tuesday.

As The Associated Press notes, the plan would provide 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. with the opportunity to pursue U.S. citizenship.

The plan also toughens border security requirements, requires all employers to verify their employee's legal status, and creates new Visa programs for workers, according to CBS Miami.

Although the plan has yet to be unveiled to Senate colleagues, it has already received opposition from some who argue U.S. "amnesty" is being extended to illegal immigrants.

"I'm not convinced," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) told AP.

"I know Sen. Rubio's heart is exactly right. And I really respect the work of the Gang of Eight. But they have produced legislation … that will give amnesty now, legalize everyone that's here effectively today and then there's a promise of enforcement in the future," Sessions added.

Members of the House of Representatives have reportedly formed a "Gang of Six" to oppose the incoming immigration reform.

"Once I saw illegal aliens getting more rights than the average citizen, that's when I started my crusade," Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), a member of the Gang of Six who opposed illegal immigration when he was mayor of Hazelton, Pa., told the National Review Online.

Many evangelical leaders have expressed their support for immigration reform through the Evangelical Immigration Table, an activist group which will gather in Washington, D.C., on April 17 to advocate their cause.

In spite of this support, a recent poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and The Brookings Institute, as well as a poll conducted by Pew Research Center, found that white evangelicals are the least supportive for creating immigration reform for unauthorized U.S. citizens.

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