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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

With Sen. Marco Rubio's immigration ideas down the middle, prospects for reform improve



The plan calls for tougher border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Undocumented residents would have to learn English and pay fines — to "get right with the law before they can get in line and earn their citizenship."

That effectively summarizes Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's immigration proposal, which he outlined over the weekend.

But the words were spoken by President Barack Obama in 2010, illustrating why prospects for immigration reform are better than ever.

Not long ago it would have been political suicide for a Republican with national ambitions to jump into the complex and highly emotional immigration debate. As a U.S. Senate candidate in 2010, Rubio adopted a harder-line approach than the middle ground he seeks today.

Yet instead of enduring charges of shifting for political benefit, Rubio's Hispanic background and national stature among conservatives is scrambling the dynamics of the debate.

Story by Times Washington correspondent Alex Leary.

[Last modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 7:47pm]


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