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Rush Limbaugh Interviews Sen. Marco Rubio About Immigration Plan

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Anyway, I know your time is limited and I want to get straight to the immigration issue. The first question I have for you is, why are we doing this? It seems like Washington has a pattern, and that is, when the Democrats want to do something, the media gets behind it, the Democrats get behind it, and it becomes something that has to be done and therefore the Democrats set the stage, they start the ball in motion. The Republicans then react to it, say, "Okay, that's what you want to do, we'll do it, but here's our way of doing it." Why are we doing this now?

RUBIO: Well, actually, to avoid that problem, and, in fact, that's why I've tried to do it in the reverse. You're absolutely right, but here's the key. The key is this was going to be an issue. The president clearly outlined that he was gonna push on this, the media was gonna focus on this, the Senate Democrats were gonna push on this issue, and I thought it was critically important that we outline the principles of what reform is about. Look, I think there's this false argument that's been advanced by the left that conservatism and Republicans are anti-immigrant and anti-immigration. And we're not. Never have been.

On the contrary, we are pro-legal immigration. And we recognize that our legal immigration system needs to be reformed. We also recognize, because conservatism's always been about common sense, that we do have a existing problem that needs to be dealt with in the best way possible. Now, it was dealt with in 1986 in a way that was counterproductive. Well-intentioned, but counterproductive because, A, they granted a blanket amnesty to three million people at the time, or that was the estimate, and B, they didn't do that any of the enforcement mechanisms. And so our point is if we're gonna deal with this, let's deal with it once and for all and in a way that this never, ever happens again.

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RUBIO: (laughing) Well, let me make an argument to you on that. People always say to me, "Well, aren't you worried about the political implications?" I am confident, I really am, maybe people don't share this confidence, I am confident that, given a fair chance, I can convince most Americans, including Americans of Hispanic descent, that limited government and free enterprise is better for them and better for their upward mobility than big government is. Because that's the reason why they came here. You look at people that come from Latin America. They come to get away from stale stagnant economies where the rich keep winning and everybody else keeps working for them because Big Government dominates those economies. I just wanted to say, to the point of them not wanting to do the security, look, all I can tell you is that that's a big issue for me and that's why I'm involved in this process. I have no reason to believe it won't happen, but if it doesn't then I'll come back to you and say, "Look, it didn't. We tried. They put that in the principles, but then they drafted a bill that didn't do it, and I couldn't support it."

RUSH: Well, is that the reason that a majority of immigrants come to this country today? I know it used to be. They wanted to be Americans. They wanted to escape oppression. They wanted to become citizens of the greatest country on earth. I've seen a number of research, scholarly research data which says that a vast majority of arriving immigrants today come here because they believe that government is the source of prosperity, and that's what they support. It's not about conservative principles and so forth, not the way it used to be. Are the Republicans stuck in the past in misjudging why the country is attractive to immigrants today?

RUBIO: You know, our argument about limited government is always harder to sell than a government program. It always has been. I mean, it's easier to sell cotton candy than it is to sell broccoli to somebody, but the broccoli is better for you, and the same thing with a limited government. Yeah, it's a lot easier for a politician to sell people on how a big government program is gonna make their life better, but I think ours, once we sell it, is more enduring and more permanent and better for the country. It is a challenge. And, by the way, it's not just a challenge for people that are immigrating here, it's a challenge for people that are born here. We have a real fight on our hands to convince the American people that limited government and free enterprise is the right thing for our future. I think that's a real challenge across the board given some things that have happened in our society.

But look, I don't know. I haven't done a scholarly study on the makeup. I can only tell you about the people I interact with and I can tell you the folks I interact with, once they get into this country and they start to work and they open up their own business, they start to understand the cost of big government. I see it every day firsthand from people that have been here about eight to ten the years. All of a sudden they have their own business, they have a bunch of permits that they have to comply with, a bunch of complicated laws. Their taxes just went up a couple of weeks ago even though President Obama has been saying it's only gonna go up on the rich, and the light bulb is going off that, in fact, big government, you know, rich means them even though they're middle class and big government means less opportunity for them. So we have work to do, there's no doubt about it.

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RUBIO: Well, you know, Rush, that's an interesting point. The president has an important decision to make here in about an hour when he gives his speech. He can either decide that he wants to be part of a solution, or he can decide he wants to be part of a political issue and try to trigger a bidding war. I'm not gonna be part of a bidding war to see who can come up with the most lenient path forward. I think we should be for a reasonable path that's good for Americans, that's fair to the people that come here legally every year, a million people who come every year legally. No other country is nearly as generous, and we've got four Democratic senators who, in writing, have committed to the same principles.

Now, in flushing out and creating a law, which is not written yet, by the way, and it will be some time before it is, if it doesn't work out that's one thing. But the president has a choice to make today. If he goes to Las Vegas, which I'm not sure why he didn't do it in Washington, but if he's gone to Las Vegas to give a speech and try to trigger a bidding war, then no, it doesn't bode well. There won't be a solution. We'll just continue to have what we have now, because that issue I think is a bright line for most of us that are involved in this effort, that unless there is real enforcement triggers, we are not gonna have a bill that moves on to the next -- you know, to the opportunity to apply for a green card.

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