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A Nation of Immigrants, A Nation of Laws

November 2, 2011

Among other newsmakers, the Washington Ideas Forum welcomed Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who spoke to Major Garrett, congressional correspondent for National Journal. The Cuban-American senator explained why Republicans have to navigate immigration carefully:

“The Republican Party cannot be the anti-illegal immigration party; we have to be the pro-legal immigration party. We have to be a party that advocates for a legal immigration system that honors our tradition both as a nation of immigrants and as a nation of laws. It’s essential for our economic future. On the one hand, Americans think, if you’re here in violation of the laws, you shouldn’t benefit from programs like in-state tuition. Here’s where it gets tricky: There’s a kid who’s now 18, but he arrived when he was two; his parents brought him. He didn’t come; his parents brought him. This kid has grown up here his entire life, and he can’t go to college. Now, here’s the rub: If that kid is 6-foot-7 and can dunk a basketball or throw a 95-mile-an-hour fast pitch, we’re going to find a way to keep him. But, if the kid has 4.0 GPA, you’re going to deport him? You’re going to send him back to Nicaragua or Honduras, and he doesn’t even speak Spanish? As the years go on and the immigration issue remains unresolved, the ability to carve out narrow exceptions for folks like that has gotten harder and harder. That will remain the case until the federal government gets serious about bringing the illegal immigration problem under control and creating a legal immigration process that works.”