One of the most heated exchanges of the GOP debate on Saturday occurred between Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz over the issue of illegal immigration.
“Marco right now supports citizenship for 12 million people here illegally. I oppose citizenship,” Cruz said. “Marco has a long record when it comes to amnesty. In the state of Florida, as Speaker of the House, he supported in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. In addition to that, Marco went on Univision in Spanish and said he would not rescind President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office. I have promised to rescind every single illegal executive action, including that one.”
“First of all, I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn’t speak Spanish,” Rubio shot back, calling out the Texas senator for his lack of fluency in the language.
Challenging him, Cruz responded in Spanish, (roughly translated): “Right now, say it in Spanish. If you want.”
Rubio then accused Cruz of lying about “all sorts of things.” But was he lying about what Rubio said to a Spanish-speaking audience on Univision?
The answer, technically, is no.
According to Univision's transcript, this is what Rubio said:
“Well, DACA is going to have to end at some point. I wouldn’t undo it immediately. The reason is that there are already people who have that permission, who are working, who are studying, and I don’t think it would be fair to cancel it suddenly. But I do think it is going to have to end. And, God willing, it’s going to end because immigration reform is going to pass. DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents] hasn’t yet taken effect, and I think it has impeded progress on immigration, on immigration reform. And since that program hasn’t taken effect yet, I would cancel it. But DACA, I think it is important; it can’t be cancelled suddenly because there are already people who are benefitting from it. But it is going to have to end. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States. And I don’t think that’s what they’re asking for, either. I think that everyone prefers immigration reform.”
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant clarified Rubio's remarks after the interview, underscoring the fact that the Florida senator does not believe DACA should be kept indefinitely.
“Marco went on Spanish media this week and rejected a comprehensive immigration reform approach, said that the immigration executive orders won’t be permanent policy under his administration, and that he would oppose legalization today because we first need to prevent a future illegal immigration crisis by enforcing our laws,” Conant told Breitbart News.
“Marco also said it’s important not to end DACA immediately since it would be disruptive given all the people that have it,” he added, “but that at a certain point it would have to end since it cannot be the permanent policy of the land.”
Conant continued: “In case anything was lost in translation, he believes we have to fix our broken immigration system in a series of smaller bills, starting with border security and enforcement, then modernizing our legal immigration system, and then eventually dealing with the illegal immigrants living here."
Cruz was specific in his accusation--that Rubio wouldn't undo the executive amnesty on his first day in office, and Rubio did say he wouldn't end the program immediately, which was confirmed by his spokesman. But if we are looking at the bigger picture of what Rubio was saying, he certainly wasn't advocating for keeping DACA in place permanently. Thus, it seems this 'controversy' is nothing more than a debate over semantics.