“The question about ‘Whether you give citizenship to people’ is not a yes or no answer,” Sen. Marco Rubio says, adding there was no “unanimity” in America about what to do with illegal immigrants.
Rubio made his remarks during a town hall discussion in Iowa, after he was asked by a woman about his position on immigration. “Yes or no question: Do you support a path to citizenship for illegal aliens?” she asked.
“I don’t believe we’re not going to round up and deport 12 million people, I’m not going to lie to you about that.” Rubio said. He said that many illegal immigrants would not be able to stay – because they were either criminals or hadn’t been in the United States long enough.
Rubio said that illegal immigrants who would be allowed to stay under his plan would do so only after paying “very significant consequences” for violating immigration laws, such as passing a background check and paying fines. He insisted that many in the Republican party think illegal immigrants should never be allowed to get anything other than a legal work permit.
“Some people are saying that’s all you should ever have, I would argue that’s probably the majority position in the Republican party right now,” he said. But Rubio said he supported allowing illegal immigrants to apply for a green card.
“I have personally said, that I am open to them being able to apply for – not be awarded – apply for a green card. You can’t apply for citizenship, you can apply for a green card. And you have to have that for five years before you can even try to be anything else,” he said.
He clarified that he only supported allowing illegal immigrants who met specific criteria to earn work permits or apply for green cards. He also said that it was essential to make sure illegal immigration was under control before allowing any kind of reform, otherwise the current illegals would be replaced by 12 million more illegal immigrants.
Rubio hinted that the Senate “Gang Of Eight” approach that he took was a mistake, because it didn’t secure the border first.
“Not just say you’re going to do it, that was a big mistake from two and a half years ago OK? You can’t just say we’re going to pass a law that’s going to do it – they want to see you do it first,” he said. “And only after it’s in place and working are people prepared to do anything else.”