Marco Rubio seems to have changed his views on amnesty since he was elected to the Senate three years ago. “The most important thing we need to do is enforce our existing laws,” he told Florida political blogger Javier Manjarres in an interview during his 2010 campaign. Amnesty, he said, “demoralizes the people that are going through the legal process, and it’s a very clear signal – why go through the legal process if you can accomplish the same thing through the illegal process?”
The senator, who is now sponsoring an immigration-reform bill that includes a 13-year path to citizenship, concluded, “I never have and never will support any effort to grant blanket legalization amnesty to folks that have stayed in this country illegally.”
In the process of rolling out the Gang of Eight’s legislation this year, Rubio has insisted the path to citizenship provided does not constitute amnesty. “This is not amnesty,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. ”Amnesty is the forgiveness of something. Amnesty is anything that says do it illegally, it will be cheaper and easier.”
Nonetheless, it appears that Rubio’s views on the subject have softened considerably since he campaigned for office.
UPDATE: I reached out to Rubio press secretary Alex Conant for comment. He says that the views Rubio expressed in 2010 are consisted with the priciples underlying the current bill: “We are currently not enforcing our laws – we have defacto amnesty. We are not going deport 11 million people, but we are not going to give them blanket amnesty. Our bill makes them pay stiff fines, undergo background checks, learn English, pay taxes and gives them an opportunity to earn citizenship by going to the back of the line only after we’ve implemented the toughest border security and immigration enforcement in US history.”
UPDATE II: Mediate’s AJ Delgado last month chronicled Rubio’s previous statements on amnesty, including an exchange with CNN’s Candy Crowley during one of the Florida Senate debates. Crowley asked, “You’re going to close the borders, get the electronic system, fix the legal system, and then do what?” Rubio responded that those here illegally would return to their countries of origin and reenter the country legally. ”You’ll have people in this country that are without documents that will be able to return to the — will be able to leave this country,” he said, “return to their home land, and try to re-enter through our system that now functions, a system that makes sense.”