No stranger to immigration politics, Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., wants to use his freshman term in the House to make some headway on real reform. Garcia, the son of Cuban exiles, acknowledges the Republicans are starting to evolve on the issue. Garcia recently said he “wholeheartedly” welcomes Senator Marco Rubio and others’ “evolution” and welcomes them “with open arms to join our cause.”
“[The Republicans] have evolved [on immigration]. I think this is important,” Garcia told The Daily Rundown’s Chuck Todd on Thursday. “We’ve got to find a pathway forward and I think that’s the sticking point.”
Garcia recently released a statement responding to Rubio’s “pathway to citizenship” proposal, calling it a “a positive step toward this important goal” and the legislation “tough, but fair.”
The Florida congressman also explained that his House Republican colleagues need to understand that America has been most accepting towards immigrants and the policy just needs a few improvements.
“This is something that America does better than any other country in the world and that is take people and make them Americans,” he said. Garcia points out that a common mistake in America is allowing all these undocumented immigrants to have the responsibilities an American citizen has but none “of the great benefits,” saying the “reality is that we need full Americans.”
Garcia calls the timeline of immigration reform completely “up to the Republicans” because “clearly, the Democrats are working.”
“I think the Senate is pretty close to having something comprehensive,” Garcia said. “I haven’t seen that willingness in my colleagues on the House side. Hopefully, we’ll get something out. My hope is that by the middle of the summer we’re going to have something for the president to sign.”
Todd also mentioned the idea of the U.S. and Cuba possibly having open-travel, and open-border agreements by the end of President Barack Obama’s second-term. Garcia, who supports family travel to Cuba but opposes tourist travel, and who has helped resettle Cuban exiles in the United States, doesn’t seem optimistic but says Obama’s policy on Cuba “makes sense.”
“I think more civil society programs, more free enterprise, more contacts with their fellow brethren in Miami – that’s good for the long-term and that’s an investment in America’s long-term relationship with the Cuban people not the Cuban government,” Garcia said.