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Reform vs. Isolationism: Immigration Debate Heats Up

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 14: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sips water while addressing the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 14, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. A slate of important conserative leaders are slated to speak during the the American Conservative Union's annual conference. Credit: Getty Images

The Senate began marking-up the "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill Thursday with 300 amendments in play. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been described as the bill's architect and likely the member of the gang with the most to win -- or lose -- with the legislation, through aides has provided Roll Call with a "sampling" of the amendments, which the 2016 hopeful will push the Judiciary Committee to approve. These include:

  • An amendment mandating that specific portions of the southwest border be fenced with double-layered fencing, along with the funding to do it.
  • Amendments that would increase the number of background checks that immigrants are subject to as they go through the process to make sure they do not violate the criminal/national security grounds for eligibility.
  • Amendments that go after immigrants who commit welfare fraud, and by extension, those that create a rebuttable presumption that an immigrant is a public charge if they accept state and local welfare benefits.

Rubio's offerings are clearly taking aim at conservative critics of the bill, focusing on bolstering security milestones and clarifying the denial of welfare benefits. The Florida Senator has worked overtime to convince critics of the bill that it is the right thing to do and that anything short of it falls into what some have termed “neo-isolationism”. Rubio pokes further, suggesting that immigration reform would help prevent future terror attacks by putting more standardized and streamlined checks into place. He argues that safety and openness go hand-in-hand, not the opposite; which some say hints isolationism.

These comments, and others made by Rubio during this immigration reform debate, have knocked down the once golden boy a peg among some conservatives.

On "Real News" Thursday, the panel discussed Rubio's comments, the sharpening immigration debate dialog and how one defines isolationism as the term that has found its way in talking points to demean those that question the Senate bill.

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