- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Thursday that while some illegal immigrants will have to be deported, it’s unrealistic to think it can happen for all of the approximately 11 million in the United States.

Mr. Rubio was asked if he would accept or denounce 2016 GOP presidential rival Donald Trump’s tough deportation plan, and the Florida senator said both sides have valid points to make.

“We are going to have to deport some people — otherwise, if you’re not going to enforce your laws, what’s the point of having those laws?” Mr. Rubio said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “Criminals are going to be deported. People that haven’t been here very long are going to be deported. People overstaying visas are going to be deported — that’s how you enforce immigration laws.

“The flip side of it is I do not believe you can round up and deport 11 million, especially people that have been here 15 years, have not otherwise violated the laws, can pass background checks and so forth,” he continued.

Host Bill Hemmer said it sounded a little like Mr. Rubio was “trying to ride the middle line here.”

“It’s not about middle line — it’s reality,” Mr. Rubio said. “Yes, people will have to be deported — there’s no doubt about it, but we also have to deal realistically with the fact that we have 12 or 13 million people, whatever the number is, but my point is you can’t even get to that third part until you’ve done two things first.”

SEE ALSO: Immigration, border policies divide 2016 Republican candidates

Mr. Rubio said you’ve got to prove to people that illegal immigration is under control by showing them laws are being enforced. He also said you have to modernize the legal immigration system to make it “merit-based and not family-based anymore.”

“And if you do those two things, I actually think the American people are going to be very reasonable about how to deal with someone who’s been here for 15 years, is not otherwise violating the law, learns English, pays a fine, starts paying taxes, is gainfully employed,” he said. “But you can’t get to that stage until you’ve done these other two things … yes, there will be people that will have to be deported.

He pointed out that people are deported every day.

Mr. Rubio was part of a group of senators that crafted a comprehensive 2013 bill that beefed up border security and provided an eventual pathway to citizenship for most illegal immigrants in the country, but has since advocated for a piecemeal approach on the issue.

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