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Tampa Bay Times: Sen. Marco Rubio Talks Immigration at Pasco Republican Gathering

Posted 5/2/2013

Tampa Bay Times
By: Molly Moorhead

PORT RICHEY — Speaking to 600 diehard Pasco Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday night cast the sensitive work of immigration reform as a national security issue that can’t be ignored.

“We have to deal with the people who are here now, and I want to know who they are so I can run them through a background check and a national security check,” Rubio said in his keynote speech at the local party’s annual Reagan Day dinner fundraiser.

The crowd seemed to be with him, responding with big applause when he said none of the 11 million people in the country illegally would have access to food stamps or welfare under a bill proposed in the Senate.

The bill, being put forward by a bipartisan group known as the “Gang of Eight,” would require people who arrived in the country illegally or overstayed a visa to pass a criminal background check, pay a fine and wait a decade to seek a green card. It would then take another three years for naturalization, making for a 13-year path to citizenship.

The legislation provides at least $5 billion for more border security and would require 100 percent “awareness” at the southern border with Mexico and a 90 percent effectiveness rate. It mandates that all employers use an electronic verification system, phased in over five years, to check the legal status of workers.

Rubio has been taking flak from the conservative wing of his party, which opposes any reforms that resemble a form of amnesty. Tuesday night, he acknowledged “mixed feelings” on the issue and said there wouldn’t be any parades in his honor for taking the lead.

So why do it? “Our job is to make things better,” he said. “You can’t always be about no. Sometimes you have to be about yes.”

He also offered a line of compassion about people who came to the United States illegally.

Read the rest of the article here.