Rubio Stands Apart From “Gang of Eight” on Immigration

the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.
the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

He’s seen by many as his party’s key voice on the issue of immigration, but when it comes to working on the issue in Congress, it appears Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) prefers to go it alone.

Politico reports that a new “Gang of Eight” senators has begun meeting to discuss immigration reform. It comes after the Los Angeles Times reported that immigration reform would be the first item on President Barack Obama’s second term agenda in the new year.

But notably absent from the “Gang of Eight” – which includes Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ) and Arizona Senator-elect Jeff Flake – is Rubio.

Apparently, that’s by choice.

“We won’t prejudge their efforts, but Senator Rubio has said that he believes immigration reform should not be handled in one big comprehensive bill, but instead be done in a comprehensive series of bills,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told msnbc Monday.

“We’re working with Republican & Democratic colleagues in both the House & Senate on those pieces of legislation.”

Indeed, Politico reports that aides to Rubio and House Budget committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have begun meeting privately to try and craft smaller, separate immigration bills that may be more palatable to Republicans in Congress than a single, sweeping bill desired by the White House. Such a bill would inevitably include a pathway to citizenship for the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the country.

Meanwhile, a new Politico / George Washington University Poll released Monday finds that 62% of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship over several years, while 35% oppose it.