Florida Sen. Marco Rubio completed his flip-flop on immigration today, saying he opposes a pathway to citizenship and believes the U.S. should deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the country.
In a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, Rubio told the assembled audience that allowing illegal immigrants to reside in the country would be like allowing bank robbers to keep the money they’ve taken.
“As Republicans we have to be compassionate,” Rubio said. “Of course we need to remember that we’re talking about human beings. There ‘illegals’ are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. But whatever else they may be, first and foremost they are criminals and should feel the full force of American justice.
“We don’t let bank robbers keep the cash they’ve stolen. We don’t let car thieves drive away from the courthouse in their Ferraris. And we shouldn’t let illegal immigrants stay in this country.”
Rubio then went on to clarify that although he thinks nearly all undocumented immigrants should be sent home, some small groups should be exempted.
“Of course by criminals, I’m mostly referring to Mexicans. There are a lot of brave Cubans in this country who are here escaping Communist oppression. We should allow them to stay of course.
“But for everyone else, it’s time to start packing. Might as well head back before the Feds get there. So blow out that Virgin Mary candle, tie your mattress to the back of your lowrider, and start driving south. Bring some tamales with you, because it’s gonna be a long ride home.”
Rubio, a second-generation Cuban-American, is one of the Republican Party’s highest profile Hispanic leaders. Elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, many hoped that he could bridge the divide between the business and nativist wings of the conservative movement.
However, Rubio is also a potential candidate for president in 2016 and has struggled to balance his desire for immigration reform with the necessity of positioning himself for a Republican presidential primary.
Although he once strongly supported comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship, he has slowly been backing off of those positions in recent weeks.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Currant, Rubio claims he has always been staunchly against amnesty.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Me? Pathway to citizenship? No … I’ve always opposed amnesty in all its forms. Only mass deportations will teach these people to stop coming.”
Rubio also says, however, that he may “evolve” on the issue sometime in mid-2016, after the Republican primary season is over.