(CNN) — President Barack Obama’s change in immigration policy, unveiled last week, will only heighten the political gamesmanship surrounding the issue, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday.
Speaking on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” Rubio said he and his colleagues in the U.S. Senate would have a harder time pushing through longer-term solutions after Obama’s move.
“What I first encountered when I came to the Senate was no one wanted to talk about immigration. There were too many scars, people had gone through too much in years past, it was a very highly charged, very politicized issue,” Rubio said, saying he had worked hard to frame immigration as a humanitarian, rather than political, issue.
Last Friday, Obama announced a change to the U.S. immigration policy that would allow people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat and were successful students or served in the military to receive a two-year deferral from deportation.
Obama’s move, Rubio said, put a stop to the progress he and his colleagues had achieved.
“Then comes the president, without talking to anybody and basically does it by executive order, five months before the election, in a blatant effort to try to win Hispanic votes, or at least energize the Hispanic vote, and to turn it against Republicans, he’s politicized it,” Rubio said.
The Florida Republican continued: “If it’s going to be political ping-pong, and a political talking point, it’s going to be very difficult to come up with the measured, responsible approach we’ve been working on.”
Addressing Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, Rubio said Congress had lost all confidence in the government’s top lawyer. Earlier Thursday, Rubio said Holder should resign ahead of a possible U.S. House vote next week on citing him for contempt of Congress. Republicans claim Holder is restricting their oversight responsibilities by limiting access to documents related to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting.
“I’ve think we’ve reached the point of no return,” Rubio said Thursday. “I think [Holder] has increasingly lost the confidence of people here in Congress. I think Darryl Issa and the folks over at the House have given him multiple opportunities to address these concerns, to answer some of these questions, and they’ve refused to do it.”
“You start to wonder well what is it they don’t want us to know?” Rubio said.
Asked about Mitt Romney’s announcement Tuesday that he is vetting Rubio as a potential running mate, the Florida senator reverted to his standard language.
“I don’t pay a lot of attention to the back and forth,” Rubio said. “It’s like a sport up here, that stuff. But I made a decision a couple months ago to not comment on the vice presidential process anymore, out of respect for Gov. Romney and the work he’s putting into that.”
Rubio did say he was looking forward to a bright future in politics.
“I think if I do a good job in the Senate, and continue to do a good job, the people look at me and say, ‘Hey this is someone who is serious about the issues, I may not agree with him on everything, but I know where he stands and he works hard on behalf of what he stands,’ I think if I do that I’ll have plenty of opportunities to do things inside and outside of politics, so that’s what I’m focused on.”
By Kevin Liptak – CNN
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