Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., refused to say Sunday whether he agrees with his own immigration reform bill. Rubio said the bill is almost “ready to go,” but continues to insist that measure doesn’t have strong enough border protection enforcement to secure the bipartisan support it needs to pass.
"I think it's an excellent starting point, and I think 95, 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go," he said in an ABC “This Week” interview with guest host Jonathan Karl. "But there are elements that need to be improved."
Karl asked if Rubio would support the bill with border security as it stands. Rubio replied, “I don’t want to get involved in the hypotheticals and ultimatums.”
Conservative pundit, Anne Coulter, has made claims that Rubio is “being played” by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also a member of the Gang of Eight.
Rubio responded to her remarks on “This Week” saying, “I don’t even know what that means.”
"I recognize there is a division among conservatives about [immigration reform.] I respect other people's views on it," he said. "I understand why they are frustrated by it. I just hope people understand that the reason why I've undertaken this is because this is a major problem that's hurting our country."
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. said negotiations are open on the specificity of border protection, but that it should not impede the path to citizenship for 11 million currently undocumented immigrants in the United States.
"I would simply say to our colleagues we are open, if you want greater specificity about what that border plan looks like, we're open to that," Menendez said. "But what we cannot have and what I cannot support and what I believe the community cannot support at the end of the day is that we're going to have triggers that can never be achieved in terms of border security as an impediment to the pathway to legalization and citizenship.”
While Menendez warns Republicans have to embrace the citizenship plan or face extinction, Rubio warns the bill will not pass without beefed up border security.
"I think the debate now is about what that border security provision looks like," Rubio said. "If we do that, this bill will have strong bipartisan support. If we fail, we're going to keep trying, because at the end of the day, the only way we're going to pass an immigration reform law out of the House and Senate so the president can sign it is, that it has real border security measures within it."