CNN's Dana Bash Asks Rubio About His Changing Position On Immigration

Bash Points Out Rubio's Support For 2013 Bill On Comprehensive Immigration Reform That Included Path To Citizenship

From the December 15 edition of CNN's Republican Presidential Debate:

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DANA BASH (DEBATE MODERATOR): We've been talking tonight about programs and policy proposals that you all have to keep Americans safe and it's a big discussion on the campaign trail. Also about border security and immigration. So let's talk about immigration. Senator Rubio. You co-authored a bill with Democrats two years ago that allowed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Do you still support that path to citizenship, which means giving those immigrants rights like the right to vote?

MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Immigration is not an issue that I read about in the newspaper or watch a documentary on PBS or CNN. It's an issue I've lived around my whole life. My family are immigrants. My wife's family are immigrants. All of my neighbors are immigrants. I see every aspect of this problem. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And here's what we learned in 2013. The American people don't trust the federal government to enforce our immigration laws and we will not be able to do anything on immigration until we first prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control. And we can do that. We know what it takes to do that. It takes at least 20,000 more additional border agents. It takes completing those 700 miles of fencing. It takes a mandatory E-Verify system and a mandatory entry/exit tracking system to prevent visa overstays. After we've done that, the second thing we have to do is reform and modernize the legal immigration system. And after we've done those two things, I think the American people are going to be very reasonable with what do you do with someone who's been in this country for 10 or 12 years, who hasn't otherwise violated our laws because if they're a criminal they can't stay. They'll have to go undergo a background check, pay a fine, start pay taxes, and ultimately they'll be given a work permit. And that's all they're going to be allowed to have for at least 10 years. But you can't even get to that third step until you've done the other two things and that was the lesson we learned in 2013. There is no trust that the federal government will enforce the law. They will not support you until you see it done first.

BASH: Senator, you haven't answered the question. You just described a long path but does that path end at citizenship?

RUBIO: Oh, but I've answered that question repeatedly. I am personally open after all of that has happened and after ten years in that probationary status where all they have is a work permit, I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card. That may not be a majority position in my party. But that's down the road. You can't even begin that process until you prove to people, not just pass a law that says you're going to bring illegal immigration under control. You're going to have to do it and prove to people that it is working. And that was the lesson of 2013. And it's more true today then it was then, after a migratory crisis on the border with minors coming over that you're seeing start up again now. After all these executive orders the president has issued. More than ever, we need to prove to people that illegal immigration is under control. 


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