Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledged on Thursday that Congress won’t be able to make headway with immigration reform unless some people are deported.
“We are going to have to deport some people, otherwise if you’re not going to enforce the law, what’s the point of having those laws?” Rubio said on Fox’s “America’s Newsroom.” “Criminals are going to be deported. People who haven’t been here very long are going to be deported. People overstaying visas are going to have to be deported. That’s how you enforce immigration laws.”
But Rubio, who some conservatives continue to mistrust because of his past support for comprehensive immigration reform, made clear that he was not in favor of deporting everyone who’s here illegally.
“The flipside of it is, I do not believe you can round up and deport 11 million people, especially people who have been here 15 years, have not otherwise violated the law, can pass background checks and so forth,” he said. “There’s got to be a process to deal with that realistically.”
Rubio insisted that his current position about immigration is “not about a middle line” but rather about being realistic.
Rubio said that before any legal status is considered, the U.S. first has to “prove to people that illegal immigration is under control” by securing the border and deporting some offenders, and then “modernize the legal immigration system to make it merit-based and not family-based anymore.”
“If you do those two things, I actually think the American people are gong to be very reasonable about how to deal with someone who has been here 15 years, is not otherwise violating the law, learns English, pays a fine, starts paying taxes, and is gainfully employed,” Rubio said.
“You can’t get to that stage until you do these other two things,” he said. “So yes, there will be people who will have to be deported.”