Marco Rubio appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" today and the subject of immigration, legal and illegal came up. After mauling Ted Cruz for a minute or so, Chuck Todd asked Rubio about his own position:
TODD: Let me ask you, by the way, quickly, on the eleven million [illegal aliens residing in the United States]. Are you still for find a way for them to stay legally in the United States?
Via Politico because I'm too lazy to transcribe it:
In an interview airing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," the Florida Republican contender for the presidency said felons shouldn't be allowed to stay, but those who commit lesser crimes could still qualify. He didn't specify if the people allowed to stay would ever be able to become citizens.
"If you're a criminal alien, no, you can't stay. If you're someone that hasn't been here for a very long time, you can't stay," he said. "I don't think you're gonna round up and deport 12 million people."
Rubio's somewhat fluid position on immigration has been a target for his opponents because he was part of the Gang of Eight lawmakers who worked on the 2013 immigration reform bill, which included a path to citizenship.
"If circumstances change or you learn something along the way, it's reasonable to say, 'Maybe a different approach will work better,'" Rubio said. "So for example, on immigration it is clear no comprehensive solution to immigration is going to pass."
And the last paragraph actually took place earlier in the interview when Rubio was slagging on Cruz and doesn't give the real flavor of his comments. His actual concluding statement was:
We are not going to be able to do anything on people who are here illegally until we first prove to people that illegal immigration is under control and America is safe.
To his credit, Rubio doesn't run like a scalded dog from the issue. And I take that as a positive sign that Rubio feels confident enough to call bullsh** on Trump's "Deport them now" rhetoric. The fact that we are no longer caught on between the Scylla of doing-nothing/legalizing-everyone and the Charybdis of mass roundups of illegals and are hearing constructive options is a good thing.
As the article says, Rubio doesn't specify if he sees a path to citizenship -- which I think would send a horribly wrong message in much the way the Reagan administration "immigration reform" proved to be a disaster -- or if he's talking about regularizing these people so they can work, pay taxes, etc., but block them from citizenship.
In the environment of this campaign season, Rubio undoubtedly supported "amnesty" in the eyes of some. In the eyes of others, he didn't. His realization that a comprehensive plan, like the atrocious Gang of Eight plan, is a dead issue is a positive sign in my book.