Face the Nation transcripts April 14, 2013: Rubio, Manchin, Toomey, Kelly

CBS News

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on April 14, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn., along with Americans for Responsible Solutions' Mark Kelly; plus, a panel featuring David Ignatius of the Washington Post, David Sanger of the New York Times, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, and CBS News political director John Dickerson.

SCHIEFFER: Today on FACE THE NATION, the families of the Newtown to victims came to Washington to make their case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.

SCHIEFFER: Conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin comes from gun-friendly West Virginia, but he was overcome after meeting with those parents.

MANCHIN: I'm a parent, a grandparent. I can't imagine. I just can't imagine. Let's all share, it's -- I can't imagine. I just -- I can do something. I can do something.

SCHIEFFER: Democrat Manchin and conservative Republican Senator Pat Toomey will be here to talk about the bipartisan plan they've worked out to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. We'll also hear from former astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of gun victim and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. It was a rare week of bipartisanship, and who knows where it all goes? But we'll also talk to Senator Marco Rubio about the bipartisan group he's working with on immigration reform. All that, plus analysis from David Ignatius of The Washington Post, David Sanger of The New York Times, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, and our own John Dickerson. It's all next on FACE THE NATION.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, FACE THE NATION with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning, again. The topics are guns and immigration. We're going to start this morning with immigration. We're joined by the senator many consider the key person on this issue, Marco Rubio, who is part of a bipartisan "gang of eight," who have worked out a compromise proposal they are hoping will result in a reform of immigration laws that will appeal to both sides. The senator is in Miami this morning. Senator, good morning. Let me just make sure...

RUBIO: Good morning.

SCHIEFFER: ... first, do you -- have you agreed with the "gang of eight"? Are you all together on this proposal? And when will you unveil it?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, it's important to understand, we're not agreeing to a press release. We're agreeing to a bill, a piece of legislation. We have agreed to the principles of a piece of legislation. They're still being drafted. So I would say, obviously, if the draft looks what we've agreed to, I look forward to us being able to talk in more detail later this week about that. I'm very optimistic about it.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, I think the most important part of this, the key thing is, what happens to the 11 million immigrants who are in this country illegally? What happens to them?

RUBIO: Right, yes. Well, first of all, I think it's important to point out this is not a theory. They are actually here. We are not talking about bringing millions of people here illegally. They are here now and they are going to be here for rest of their lives. The proposals in the past that some have advocated is to make their lives miserable so that they'll leave on their own or to basically ignore the problem which is happening now and is de facto amnesty. And what we're proposing is to actually deal with them in the following way. And that is, they will have to come forward and pass a rigorous background check. If they are criminals, they won't qualify. Although if they pass that background check, they will be given the opportunity to pay an application fee and a fine. And in return for that, they will get a worker permit that will allow them to stay in the U.S., work, travel, and pay taxes. They will not qualify for any federal benefits of any kind, including Obamacare. And they will have to be in that system for over 10 years before they can apply to the existing legal immigration system for a green card, not a special path, the same path as everybody else. And, of course, that will be dependent upon certain security measures being met. That means securing the border, universal E- verify, and the universal entry/exit tracking system. If those three things are not in place, that green card process won't begin, even if the 10 years has elapsed.

SCHIEFFER: You know, some Republicans are going to say this is really just amnesty under another name or under another label. Is it?

RUBIO: Well, I think that that misses the point that under existing law, if you're illegally here, you can get a green card. It says you have to go back to your country of birth, you wait 10 years, and then you apply for the green card. All we're saying is, if you decide you wanted to stay here, you'll have to wait for more than 10 years. You'll have to wait until E-verify, border security, and entry/exit happen. You won't qualify for any federal benefits. You'll have to pay taxes. You'll have to prove that you're not a public charge. And you'll -- as I said, you'll have to wait longer than 10 years to qualify for all of that. So I would argue that the existing law is actually more lenient, that going back and waiting 10 years is going to be cheaper and faster than going through this process that we are outlining.

SCHIEFFER: You are also calling for some very significant measures to tighten security along the border. And -- including spending more than $3 billion, as I understand it.

RUBIO: Well, I just think it's important when we talk about border security -- although, the immigration issue gets all the attention with regards to it. The border is really about our sovereignty as a country, about our ability to protect our borders and who has access to our nation. And the fact of the matter is that while I am not in favor of a housekeeper or a landscaper crossing the border illegally, what keeps us up at night is the worry that a terrorist could come across that border one day, or the activities that are being undertaken there now by criminal gangs that are human traffickers. And so this addresses that as well. There was a very compelling article over the weekend in The Wall Street Journal that pointed out some of the problems that exist at the border. And I think these are the kinds of issues that we're trying to get to here as well.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think you can get this bill passed this year on immigration?

RUBIO: The -- I do. I'm optimistic about it. I think this bill answers all the questions that people raise. That's why it has taken so long. That's why we've spent so much time on it. That's why we continue to spend time on it. This bill does three things that are fundamentally important for our country. It modernizes our legal immigration system, something we need to do no matter what. It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world. And it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally, but does so in a way that is fair and compassionate but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future and isn't unfair to the people that have done it the right way. And so that's why I am optimistic that we can get the votes to get this passed. But it will be a long process, hopefully a very open process. And I think it will take some time. But I believe we can get there.