Sen. Marco Rubio was asked to define the term “amnesty” on stage during the CBS debate, causing him to resort to his old talking points on the Gang of Eight bill.
“I think amnesty is the forgiveness of a wrongdoing without consequence and that — I’ve never supported that. I do not support that,” he said.
That’s Rubio’s long-standing position on the definition of amnesty that angers critics for pretending that he wouldn’t offer a path to legalization for illegal immigrants.
But Rubio insists that if he is elected president, he will do nothing regarding legalizing illegal immigrants until the border is secure — a lesson he says he learned from his effort to pass the Gang of Eight bill.
But Rubio criticized the 1986 amnesty under President Ronald Reagan, pointing out that after it was passed, the government failed to secure the border.
“It didn’t happen, and as a result, people have lost trust in the federal government,” he said. “It is now clear that the only way to make progress on immigration is not just to pass a law that enforces the law, but actually prove to people that it’s working.”
Afterwards, Rubio believes Americans will be more likely to support immigration reform.
“I think the American people will be very reasonable, but responsible, about how you handle someone who has been here a long time, who can pass a background check, who pays a fine, and starts paying taxes, and all they want is a work permit,” he said.