Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Marco Rubio shrugs at debate over 14th Amendment and babies of illegal immigrants

Mark Dillon, left, president of Tampa Bay Steel, shows products to Marco Rubio, who talked about the economy on Tuesday.


Mark Dillon, left, president of Tampa Bay Steel, shows products to Marco Rubio, who talked about the economy on Tuesday.

TAMPA — A Republican-led charge to block children of illegal immigrants from birthright citizenship has become a distraction, said Marco Rubio, the Republican front-runner in Florida's U.S. Senate race.

"The fundamental issue we need to focus on is border security. These other things are really not at this moment pressing issues," said Rubio, when asked about calls to revise the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"If you have a legal immigration system that works, these other issues take care of themselves,'' he said. "Otherwise you end up pursuing public policy that I don't think solves the problem."

Rubio, who billed himself as the most, "pro-legal immigration candidate in the country," before denouncing amnesty for illegal immigrants in the next breath, said that while some might "spin" the ongoing immigration debate as anti-Hispanic, "Ultimately, I don't think enforcing your laws is anti-anything."

"I've been raised around immigration and immigrants my whole life," he said. "Legal immigration is good for America, but I also know we can't be the only country in the world that doesn't enforce its immigration laws."

It was a careful choice of words for a prominent Hispanic candidate caught between a growing national furor over illegal immigration and a cultural connection to the source of that fury. Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants. His wife is of Colombian descent. His mother prefers to communicate in Spanish over English.

Hispanic voters, who overwhelmingly oppose Arizona's controversial illegal immigration law, could play a significant role in November's general election, as could the flocks of tea party enthusiasts and conservative voters who want the federal government to take a hard stance on illegal immigrants.

Rubio is widely expected to win the GOP primary Aug. 24. He faces two relative unknowns: William Escoffery III of Shalimar, a small Panhandle enclave in Okaloosa County, and William Billy Kogut of Ormond Beach in Volusia County.

Hillsborough GOP chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush said Escoffery and Kogut have ignored party outreach efforts.

On Tuesday, Rubio also toured Tampa Bay Steel and spoke with a dozen steel and construction business owners about the economy. He said federal health care reform and a looming effort to eliminate tax cuts for upper-income Americans have created an uncertain economic outlook that discourages investment.

Leaders in both political parties, "have failed to confront the challenges of our time," he said.

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or

Marco Rubio shrugs at debate over 14th Amendment and babies of illegal immigrants 08/10/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.