Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio, Bush respond to Pope Francis' comments on Trump and Mexico border wall

Marco Rubio with Gov. Nikki Haley talk to reporters in Anderson, S.C.

Alex Leary | Times

Marco Rubio with Gov. Nikki Haley talk to reporters in Anderson, S.C.



ANDERSON, S.C. — Marco Rubio carefully countered Pope Francis' pointed criticism about politicians who call for walls on the Mexican border, saying the U.S. has "not just a right but an obligation" to control who comes in.

"I'd like to see the Holy Father's full statement and the context of it before I comment fully," Rubio told reporters moments ago. "I'll just say this, there's no nation that is more compassionate on immigration than we are. We accept a million a people a year in the United States. Legally. Every year. Mexico doesn't do that. No other country in the world does that.

"But we're a soverign country and we have a right to control who comes in, when they come in and how they come in. Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come in and how they come in."

The Pope was responding to a question about Donald Trump's immigration policy and said building walls is "not Christian." But the remarks carried a broader note as other Republicans, including Rubio, have advocated for a security building up and tougher enforcement.

Rubio spoke before an event with Gov. Nikki Haley at a hotel here. He stressed he had not seen the pope's words in full.

"As a Roman Catholic, he is the head of the Church ... and I have tremendous respect and admiration for him. I haven't seen his statement. But I'm an elected official in the United States of America, in the federal government, and our No. 1 obligation is to keep people safe and our immigration system is a part of that."

Former Florida Jeb Bush told reporters in Columbia, S.C., that he doesn’t question Trump’s Christianity nor anyone else’s, “because I honestly believe that’s a relationship you have with your creator.” 

But, as the Associated Press reported, he did object to any argument that securing the U.S. border with Mexico by a wall is “unchristian.” 

“I support walls and fencing where it’s appropriate,” along with other forms of border security measures such as drone aircraft monitoring, Bush said. 

As far as Francis’ weighing in on a political debate, Bush said what he said in June before the pope weighed in on climate change. 

Bush, who is Catholic, says “I think it’s okay to get my guidance as a Catholic from the pope. But certainly not economic policy or environmental policy.”

[Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2016 2:17pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours