Opinion

Rubio: ‘First comes legalization, then come measures to secure the border’

rubio-dreamersSen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told a Spanish speaking TV station Sunday that securing the borders was not a prerequisite to legalizing the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“Let’s be clear,” Rubio said in a Univision interview according to the Washington Examiner. “Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence.”

This remark is a clear change of direction for Rubio who, up to now, has stressed that nothing can happen until the borders are secure.

When he appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Apr. 14, he told host Candy Crowley that three conditions would have to be met before the legalization process could commence: An E-Verify system, a workable entry-exit system, “and third is real border security, including fencing,” he said according to CNN.

“And all these three things are going to happen because they are triggers,” he continued. “They are triggers for the green card process that we have described or are laying out in our proposal.” A video of the pertinent part of that interview is below.

The Examiner’s Byron York noted:

What he has not stressed so much is the fact that the bill would legalize the 11 million almost immediately, after they have passed background checks and paid some sort of fine. That would happen before any new security measures are completed, or even begun.

He reiterated this point during the Univision interview. “As for the legalization, the enormous majority of my colleagues have accepted that it has to happen and that it has to begin at the same time we begin the measures for [the border],” Rubio said. “It is not conditional. The legalization is not conditional.”

Rubio has been a rising star in the Republican Party since his election to the Senate in 2010. On most other issues he has long been considered a conservative politician with tea party backing.

He’s also unquestionably the most visible face on the Senate’s bi-partisan Gang of Eight panel that hammered out the proposed immigration legislation.

This statement won’t help his reputation with the right.

Watch the Univision interview here or read the entire English language transcript here.

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