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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio steps back from in-state tuition for illegal immigrants; says no to VP



Sen. Marco Rubio stepped back from his past support for in-state tuition for illegal immigrations, saying during a forum in Washington that "as a general rule" undocumented residents should not get benefits like tuition. He also said carve-outs, such as those he supported in Florida, are harder to make as the immigration issue goes unresolved.

As a Florida lawmaker, Rubio supported a bill similar to the legislation in Texas that has become a campaign problem for Gov. Rick Perry. When interviewer Major Garrett of National Journal pointed that out, Rubio replied:

"Here's where it gets tricky. So here's a kid who's now 18 years old but they arrived when they were 2. Their parents brought them. ... These kids have grown up here their entire lives, they're 18 now and they can't go to college. Now here's the rub: If kid is 6-foot-7 and can dunk a basketball or throw a 95 mph fast-pitch, we're going to find a way to keep them. But if the kid has a 4.0 GPA, we're going to deport him? So people look at that and say 'Well maybe we should find a way to accommodate that."

But Rubio said as the years go on, and immigration issue is not resolved, the exceptions become harder. "In the state of Florida we tried to find a way to accommodate that without rewarding lawbreaking, without creating a magnet for other people." He suggested Florida's law has become more restrictive over the years.

Talking to reporters afterward, he denied he was seeking some distance on his past position.

"As I said repeatedly, there are instances of young people who have something to contribute to America's future and I believe the vast majority of Americans would like to able to accommodate them. My greater point -- which I hope wasn't missed -- is it's become harder and harder to do that as this issue has gone unresolved and people have become less supportive of those measures."

So then you support what Rick Perry did in Texas?

"Well, Rick Perry had a bill in Texas. We had a different bill in Florida. And one of the things that I pointed out was the process changed over time. As the bill got narrower in Florida, it reflected the political and public policy reality that as long as the larger and broader immigration issue is not resolved, it will be difficult for even us, the most compassionate nation in the history of the world,  to address the kind of cases that I just talked about."

Other topics:

UNIVISION: Rubio declined to comment on the controversy over Univision, which ran a salacious story about an old drug arrest involving his brother in law. Several presidential candidates have said they will no longer participate in a Univision debate in January. Rubio said there will be other opportunities, and indeed an NBC/Telemundo debate is in the works.

VP? "The answer is going to probably be no.,” he said then corrected himself, smiling, “The answer is going to be no.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 6:25pm]


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