As far as meeting her, I think it was an excellent catalyst for what were facing here. When you present her case to people, everyone would say yeah, that doesnt make sense. So I think her case has been the perfect catalyst for renewing this debate.
The biggest obstacle were going to face in this debate is not going to be the policy, I think its going to be the politics. I think its largely going to be the people primarily on the left who are terrified of losing the immigration issue or at least a part of the immigration issue as a political weapon. They had planned to run this election cycle beating up on Republicans for not caring about these kids. And now the prospect that theres actually a reasonable proposal out there for solving this problem just frightens them because they dont want to lose this as a political weapon.
Who are you working with on this? Any Democrats?
Although I know there are Democrats working on it, Ive really largely wanted to get our own ducks in a row internally, because I need to understand this bill from A to Z and not have any unanswered questions before I go out and work on it. I know that I have other Senate Republican colleagues who are working on their own language as well. Ive had great conversations in the past with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who I think is generally interested in dealing with this issue. I know hes got his own bill and his own version of it, but weve had brief discussions about it.
Weve talked to advocates, weve talked to a lot of people who are living it. Weve talked to people on both sides of the immigration debate in getting their input, because my intention is not to offer a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Were always open on ideas to improve it, or make it better.
Were deeply committed to hopefully addressing this issue in a bipartisan fashion. I think there are so many issues that Republicans and Democrats are still going to be able to fight over if thats what they want to do. But I think the notion of helping out these kids in these circumstances is something that really should unite us on a bipartisan basis.
For you personally, as the son of parents who immigrated here, do feel that you more than some other folks in the Senate have a moral obligation to do something about immigration and the stalemate?
I think all of us represent the issues of our nation. I dont know if a have a larger moral obligation. They way I would characterize it is I have more real life experience. All of us bring the cumulative experience of our life to where we are, including the political process. You dont just elect a person, you elect all theyve seen and experienced in their lives, and how that impacts their decision making.
So I think any senator from Florida, representing this state, having the kind of issues we have here, would be impacted by the human reality of the situation these kids are living. How can you live where I live, in West Miami, , in the middle of a majority-minority Hispanic community, and not know people that have been impacted by the current state of immigration policy in America? So certainly that has an impact on who I am and where I come from..
This is only a drop in the bucket. Theres an estimated 10 to 12 million undocumented people in the country. What do you do about that?