Sen. Marco Rubio Calls ‘Border Security’ The ‘Key That Unlocks The Door To Everything Else’

On Sunday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper. During the approximately ten minute segment, Tapper asked Rubio about the partial government shutdown and border security.

Tapper first asked Rubio if the shutdown strategy was “a huge mistake,” especially in light of the economic damage it caused. Rubio noted that while he doesn’t believe “shutdowns are good leverage,” the goal of a secure border is worthwhile:

I think it’s important to separate the tactics from the goal and the policy aim – and what the president wants is not unreasonable. It’s a fraction of what Democrats have voted for in the past. And, more importantly, I think, at least for me … achieving border security is the key that unlocks the door to doing other things on immigration that he’s expressed a willingness to do – the extension of TPS [Temporary Protected Status], dealing with the DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] population.

I believe he’s willing to go even further and do something reasonable with people who have been here a long time unlawfully, but are not criminals. But all of that is being held up by the inability to get agreement on border security, which the president campaigned on.

So, I hope people will separate the tactics from the policy, because I think the policy is reasonable and solid.

Tapper rebutted Rubio, saying that “the Democrats voting for more money in border security in the past, especially in 2013 … was in exchange for a lot of other things having to do with undocumented immigrants, having to do with a path to legal status. It wasn’t just given out willy-nilly.”

“You see there’s an opportunity here over the next three weeks to get something done?” Tapper added. “Where does that optimism come from?”

Rubio pushed back, saying: “Well, first of all, we shouldn’t be trading border security for anything, because it’s something we’re all for.”

If you are for something and I’m for something, why do we need to barter and negotiate over it? And the second part about it is, they don’t have to leverage the president on what to do with people in DACA or TPS, because he’s already expressed a willingness to do things on that.

And I think people will be surprised at how much this White House is willing to do, maybe not as far as the Democrats want to go, but how much certainty they’re willing to provide people under DACA, under TPS, people that have been here for a long time, but aren’t criminals, if the president can get his primary promise, which should be something we all share.

And that is that we want to protect our borders in a way that’s effective. And that’s why, to me, apart from the fact that we should protect our borders and everyone should be in agreement with that, is the fact that it opens the door to doing much more on these other issues and finally beginning to solve this issue of immigration that for 20 years people have talked about, but no one has done anything about it.

Tapper then stated that the reason Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients are “insecure” is because the president took “away the protections that had previously existed for them.”

Rubio, however, noted that the protections were always temporary, and that through negotiations, they could become permanent:

Yes, but understand those programs are called temporary protective status for a reason. And if you just were to look at it from a hard, cold, analytical perspective, the controversy, the crisis that justified those TPSes had long ago passed.

So, at this point, the reason why people like me want to see TPS extended and perhaps even provide permanency for people from Haiti, from Honduras and other places is, they have been here a long time. Some of these people are business owners. They have children that are U.S. citizens. They have children that are deployed on behalf of this country.

So, the longer time passes, the deeper roots people have in our country, the more sense it makes to allow them to stay. But TPS, by name, by design, is supposed to be temporary. The president is simply following the law in that regard.

That said, he has said he is willing to extend it, maybe even find permanency. In fact, they’ve told me they’re willing to provide permanency in some cases for these people, but he’s got to get his first priority done. It’s the way he can justify it. And it’s the key that unlocks the door to everything else.

That’s why I hope, tactics aside, we can all agree that border security is important for America and it creates opportunity to do more on these other issues.