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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Immigration: The issue Marco Rubio can't shake



Immigration continues to follow Marco Rubio.

The issue arose during a heated debate exchange Saturday with Ted Cruz, and Monday during a town hall in Rock Hill, S.C., when a man asked Rubio about his role in the Gang of 8. “The Senate immigration law was not headed towards becoming law," Rubio said. "Ideally it was headed towards the House, where conservative members of the House were going to make it even better."

Rubio in June 2013 did call the bill “a good piece of legislation (the House) should take a look at.” He did not try to push House leaders to take it up. “It would have helped,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Gang of 8 member and Jeb Bush supporter, told the Tampa Bay Times recently.

NBC News, which reported on the Rubio event, said the Florida Republican "took particular issue with a provision raised by a questioner that the questioner said would effectively allow undocumented immigrants who were affiliated with gangs back into the United States merely if they renounced their association with the gang."

"Those were one of the things that I complained about — in fact, I was saying, these standards are too low, it'll never pass the House, it'll never become law," Rubio said.

Meanwhile, Cruz on Monday refused to back down from his attacks on Rubio. During the debate he accused Rubio to saying one thing in English and another in Spanish. At issue is an interview Rubio did with Univision’s Jorge Ramos last year. Cruz said it showed Rubio said he wouldn’t rescind President Obama’s “illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office.”

“I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn’t speak Spanish," Rubio shot back, leading Cruz to … speak Spanish.

So what did Rubio say to Univision?

He said that he wouldn’t undo Obama's deferred action program “immediately” but — and this is the point Cruz hopes voters gloss over — did add it would eventually have to go.

“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," Rubio said, according to a translation. “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.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 1:14am]


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