Rubio, Trump Spar on Immigration — ‘You’re the Only Person’ Who’s Hired People Illegally

Republican presidential candidates Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Donald Trump battled over immigration during Thursday’s CNN Republican presidential debate.

Rubio said, “Donald mentioned…that his position on immigration is what’s driven this debate. Well, the truth is, though, that a lot of these positions that he’s now taking are new to him. In 2011, he talked about the need for a pathway to citizenship. In 2012, Donald criticized Mitt Romney, saying that Mitt lost his election because of self-deportation. And so, even today, we saw a report in one of the newspapers that Donald, you’ve hired a significant number of people from other countries, to take jobs that Americans could have filled. My mom and dad — my mom was a maid at a hotel, and instead of hiring an American like her, you have brought in over a thousand people, from all over the world, to fill those jobs instead. So I think this is an important issue. And I think we are realizing increasingly that it’s an important issue for the country that’s been debated for 30 years, but finally needs to be solved once and for all.”

Trump responded, “Well, first of all, self-deportation is people are going to leave as soon as they see others going out. If you look at Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, they started moving people out, and the rest of them left. Self-deportation, as I really define it, and that’s the way I define it, is you’re going to get some to go, and the rest are going to go out. As far as the people that I’ve hired, in various parts of Florida, during the absolute prime season, like Palm Beach and other locations, you could not get help. It’s the up season. People didn’t want to have part-time jobs. They were part-time jobs, very seasonal, 90-day jobs, 120-day jobs, and you couldn’t get. Everybody agrees with me on that. They were part-time jobs. You needed them, or we just might as well close the doors, because you couldn’t get help in those hot, hot sections of Florida.”

Rubio then stated, “My point that I made was that you had criticized Mitt Romney for self-deportation. You said that his strategy of self-deportation is why he lost the election. and i think people in Florida would be surprised, because, in fact, the article that was today, they interviewed a number of people, that would have been willing to do those jobs, if you would have been willing to hire them to do it.”

Trump then said, “I criticized Mitt Romney for losing the election. He should have won that election. He had a failed president. He ran a terrible campaign. He was a terrible candidate. That’s what I criticized Mitt Romney [for].”

Rubio countered, “Well, in fact, I agree we should have won, and I wished he would have, but, in fact, you did criticize him for saying — for using the term ‘self-deportation.’ I mean, that’s on the record and people can look it up right now online. But again, I just want to reiterate, I think it’s really important, this point. I think it’s fine, it’s an important point that you raise and we discuss on immigration. This is a big issue for Texas, a huge issue for the country. But I also think that if you’re going to claim that you’re the only one that lifted this into the campaign, that you acknowledge that, for example, you’re only person on this stage that’s ever been fined for hiring people to work on your projects illegally.”

Trump then cut in, “No, no, I’m the only one at this stage that’s hired people. You haven’t hired anybody.” After some crosstalk, Trump added, “I’ve hired tens of thousands of people over my job. You’ve hired nobody. You’ve had nothing but problems, with your credit cards, etc.”

Rubio then said, “He hired workers from Poland, and he had to pay a million dollars or so in a judgement…for illegal hiring workers on one of his projects. And he did it. That happened.” Trump countered that this was wrong, adding, “I’ve hired tens of thousands of people over my lifetime, tens of thousands.” Rubio then responded, “Many from other countries instead of hiring Americans.”

Trump then said, “I’ve hired tens of thousands of people. He brings up something from 30 years ago, it worked out very well.” Rubio then cut in, “Yeah, you paid $1 million.”

Trump then said, “By the way, the laws were totally different. That was a whole different world.” Trump further said that he’s the only one who has hired people.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett