Marco Rubio says he and Ted Cruz have similar stances on immigration, which is why the Texas senator’s shots at his record on that volatile subject the past few days have surprised him.
“I’m puzzled and quite frankly surprised by Ted’s attacks, since Ted’s position on immigration is not that much different than mine,” Rubio told a crowd of reporters in Orlando at the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit.
“He’s a supporter of legalizing people who were in this country illegally,” the Florida senator said at a news conference immediately after he spoke at the event. “If he’s changed that position, then he certainly has the right to change his position on that issue, but he should be clear about that.”
Rubio then said that on other immigration issues Cruz has gone further than he has in trying to accommodate undocumented immigrants.
“He wanted to double the number of green cards. He wanted a 500 percent increase in the number of HB-1 visas, so everybody running for president on the Republican side, in one way or shape, supports some form or fashion the legalization of people who are in this country illegally.”
Rubio said the question now is what’s the most responsible way to deal with the issue. He then repeated his stance since he began distancing himself from his support as one of the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan Senate group who wrote a comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed in summer 2013, but that former House Speaker John Boehner never brought before the House.
Rubio’s stance is that there needs to be tighter border security to get the illegal immigration situation under control before there can be any discussion about what to do with the undocumented.
He blames the migratory crises of the summer of 2014 and President Barack Obama‘s executive actions a year ago in trying to shield millions from deportation as being the major obstacles against the current Congress working on immigration reform. “The biggest lesson from 2015 for me was how little trust there is in the federal government to enforce the law. Once you prove it to people that it’s working, than I think you’re going to have the support and political space that you need to move forward on modernization and ultimately on dealing realistically with those who are in this country for a significant period of time,” which Rubio says should be about 10 years.
For his part, Cruz isn’t backing down one bit in the verbal battle, telling conservative talk show radio host Mike Gallagher earlier Friday, “From Day One I led the fight against the Gang of Eight amnesty bill, stood shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions … and we defeated it.”