Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) dismissed a bipartisan proposal on immigration reform on Wednesday and specifically went after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his support, calling him "amazingly naive" to believe the plan would not amount to amnesty.
"Look, I love and respect Marco," Vitter said on the Laura Ingraham radio show. "I just think he’s amazingly naïve on this issue. This is the same old formula we’ve dealt with before, including when it passed in 1986 and that is promise of enforcement and immediate amnesty. And of course, the promises of enforcement never materialize. The amnesty happens immediately, the millisecond the bill is signed into law. And the same is true here."
Vitter is one of several Republican senators, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who have criticized the bipartisan framework, which was released on Monday by Rubio and seven other senators, dubbed the "gang of eight."
Their plan would allow undocumented immigrants already living in the country to have a pathway to citizenship, but not an easy one. They could immediately gain provisional status, but certain border enforcement provisions would need to be implemented before any could receive green cards and eventual citizenship.
Though they referred to it as a pathway to citizenship, the senators behind the plan argue it is not amnesty given the arduous requirements and the fact that it would be tied to border enforcement.
A number of lawmakers say they are concerned about any pathway to citizenship because the number of undocumented immigrants has swelled since 1986, when Republican President Ronald Reagan signed an immigration law that allowed some to become citizens but did not effectively block more people from staying in the country without authorization.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), both members of the "gang of eight," said on Wednesday that Rubio will be particularly important as a member of the group to win over other Republicans. They are aiming for 80 votes in favor of an eventual bill in the Senate.
So far, Rubio's involvement doesn't seem to have convinced Vitter. He said the requirements on border security in the group's framework would likely be ineffective.
"Look, as soon as you give these people a legal status, to say that you’re going to reverse that is ridiculous," Vitter said. "It'll never happen. Soon as you give them a legal status, they are here legally forever and probably they’re citizens pretty darn soon thereafter. And if Marco thinks what happens or doesn’t happen on the enforcement side -- that’s not going to happen. I just think he’s nuts."
A spokesman for Rubio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 30 -- Politico reported on Thursday that a source close to Rubio was dismissive of Vitter's remarks and made an allusion to Vitter's past links to prostitutes and madams.
“David Vitter has done some nuttier things in his life," the source said. Politico noted the email was unsolicited.