Republican Debate: Immigration Plus a Review of Rubio’s Gang of Eight Amnesty Bill
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The most satisfying moment in Thursday’s GOP debate was the part of the immigration discussion where clips of Marco Rubio showed his initial campaign for Senate with promises that he would oppose amnesty. That pledge lasted a Miami minute when he arrived in Washington and joined up with the worst open-borders hacks around to produce a massive amnesty bill in secret.

It was terrible legislation — see Senator Sessions’ critical questions about the Gang of Eight bill — so it’s not surprising Rubio doesn’t want the voters to know the depths of his perfidy. It gives me a headache just to remember all this.

The Gang of Eight bill passed the Senate but was never taken up by the Republican House.


Here’s the immigration section of the debate, the video and text:

Republican Debate Transcript, January 28, 2016

[. . .] KELLY: Welcome back everyone. Live, in Des Moines, Iowa. Now, we move onto the topic of immigration. Senator Rubio, we’ll start with you. When you ran for Senate in 2010, you made clear that you opposed legalization and citizenship for illegal immigrants. You promised repeatedly that you would oppose it as a U.S. Senator as well. Here are just a few examples. Watch.


RUBIO: Never support. Never have and never will support any effort to grant blanket legalization amnesty to folks who have entered, or stayed in this country illegally.



RUBIO: First of all, earned path to citizenship is basically code for amnesty. It’s what they call it. And, the reality of it is this, it is unfair to the people that have legally entered this country to create an alternative for individuals who entered illegally, and knowingly did so.



RUBIO: You cannot grant amnesty. If the American people see us granting amnesty they will never again believe in legal immigration. They will never again support it, and that’s wrong for our country, bad for our future.


KELLY: Within two years of getting elected you were co-sponsoring legislation to create a path to citizenship, in your words, amnesty. Haven’t you already proven that you cannot be trusted on this issue?

RUBIO: No, because if you look at the quote, and it’s very specific. And, it says blanket amnesty, I do not support blanket amnesty…

KELLY: … But, you went on from there…

RUBIO: … I do not support amnesty…

KELLY: … You said more than that, Senator…

RUBIO: … No, I said I do not support blanket amnesty…

KELLY: … You said earned path to citizenship is basically code for amnesty. You…

RUBIO: … It was…

KELLY: … supported earned path to citizenship…

RUBIO: … It absolutely has been, and at the time in the context of that was in 2009, and 2010, where the last effort for legalization was an effort done in the Senate. It was an effort led by several people that provided almost an instant path with very little obstacles moving forward.

What I’ve always said is that this issue does need to be solved. They’ve been talking about this issue for 30 years, and nothing ever happens. And, I’m going to tell you exactly how we’re going to deal with it when I am president.

Number one, we’re going to keep ISIS out of America. If we don’t know who you are, or why you’re coming, you will not get into the United States.

RUBIO: Number two, we’re going to enforce our immigration laws. I am the son and grandson of immigrants. And I know that securing our borders is not anti-immigrant and we will do it.

We’ll hire 20,000 new border agents instead of 20,000 new IRS agents. We will finish the 700 miles of fencing and walls our nation needs. We’ll have mandatory E-verify, a mandatory entry/exit tracking system and until all of that is in place and all of that is working and we can prove to the people of this country that illegal immigration is under control, nothing else is going to happen.

We are not going to round up and deport 12 million people, but we’re not going to hand out citizenship cards, either. There will be a process. We will see what the American people are willing to support. But it will not be unconstitutional executive orders like the ones Barack Obama has forced on us.

KELLY: Governor Bush, do you agree Senator Rubio has not reversed himself on his immigration promise?

BUSH: Well, I’m kind of confused because he was the sponsor of the Gang of Eight bill that did require a bunch of thresholds but ultimately allowed for citizenship over an extended period of time. I mean, that’s a fact. And he asked me to support that. And I — I supported him because I think people, when you’re elected, you need to do things.

And he led the charge to finally fix this immigration problem that has existed now for, as Marco says, for 30 years. And then he cut and run because it wasn’t popular amongst conservatives, I guess.

Here’s what I believe. And I wrote a book about this called Immigration Wars. You can get it at $2.99 on Amazon. It’s not a bestseller. I can promise you.


There won’t be any — you can get it. It’s affordable for everybody. We should have a path to legal status for the 12 million people that are here illegally. It means, come out from the shadows, pay a fine, earn legal status by working, by paying taxes, learning English. Not committing crimes and earn legal status where you’re not cutting in front of the line for people that are patiently waiting outside.

(APPLAUSE) I think that is the — I think that’s the conservative consensus pragmatic approach to how to solve this problem.

RUBIO: May I respond?

KELLY: Go ahead, senator.

RUBIO: It’s interesting that Jeb mentions the book. That’s the book where you changed your position on immigration because you used to support a path to citizenship.

BUSH: So did you.


RUBIO: Well, but you changed the — in the book…

BUSH: Yeah. So did you, Marco.


RUBIO: You wrote a book where you changed your position from a path of citizenship to a path of legalization. And the bottom line is this, we are not going to be able to do anything on this issue until we first bring illegal immigration under control. The American people have been told for 30 years they’re going to enforce the border, they’re going to build a wall and it never gets built and it never happens.

It is very clear there will be no progress on this issue in any way, shape or form, until you prove to the people of this country that illegal immigration is under control. And when I’m president, we are going to bring it under control once and for all after 30 years of talking about it.

BUSH: Marco, Marco — he brought up my name. I have supported a consensus approach to solving this problem wherever it came up. and in 2007 it almost passed when my brother was president of the United States. A bipartisan approach got close. Barack Obama actually had the poison pill to stop it then.

And when you led the charge with the Gang of Eight, I supported it because you asked me to. I think it’s important for people in elected office to try to forge consensus to solve problems. There’s never going do be perfect bill.


KELLY: All right.

BUSH: But when you didn’t do that and you ask people to support, you shouldn’t cut and run.

RUBIO: But Megyn…

BUSH: You should stick with it and that’s exactly what happened. He cut and run. And that’s a tragedy because now…


… it’s harder and harder to actually solve this problem.

KELLY: All right. This will be the last one.

RUBIO: There’s not going to be consensus on this issue until we enforce our immigration laws. That is abundantly clear. You’re not going to be able to ram down the throat of the American people your approach. The only way we’re are going to be able to move forward after two migratory crises with minor, after two unconstitutional executive orders, the only way forward on this issue is to first bring illegal immigration under control. And until that happens there’s not going to be consensus on this issue.

KELLY: OK. Let’s move on. Senator Cruz, when Senator Rubio proposed that bill creating a path to citizenship, you proposed an amendment. It would have allowed for legalization but not citizenship. Yes, it would.

Pressed last month on why you supported legalization, you claimed that you didn’t. Right? Like you just did. Saw that.


You argued that this was just a poison pill amendment, basically it’s something designed to kill the bill and not actually get it through. But that is not, however, how it sounded at the time. Watch.


CRUZ: I want this bill to be voted down. I don’t want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass. I believe if this amendment were to pass, the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically.

I believe if the amendments I introduced were adopted, that the bill would pass. And my effort in introducing them was to find a solution that reflected common ground and that fixed the problem.

CRUZ: If the proponents of this bill actually demonstrate a commitment not to politics, not to campaigning all the time, but to actually fixing this problem, to finding a middle ground. That would fix the problem, and also allow, for those 11 million people who are here illegally, a legal status, with citizenship off the table.

KELLY: Was that all an act? It was pretty convincing.

CRUZ: You know, the amendment you’re talking about is one sentence — it’s 38 words. Anyone can go online at and read exactly what it said. In those 38 words, it said anyone here illegally is permanently ineligible for citizenship. It didn’t say a word about legalization. I introduced…

KELLY: But the bill allowed both. The bill you were amending allowed citizenship and legalization.

CRUZ: But — but Megyn, the bill was 1,000 pages. I introduced a series of amendments, each designed to fix problems in the bill. The fact that each amendment didn’t fix every problem didn’t mean that I supported the rest of the bill.

And I’ll tell you who supported my amendment — Jeff Sessions, the strongest opponent of amnesty in the United States Congress. And he did so because taking citizenship off the table was important, and it revealed the hypocrisy of the proponents of this bill, who were looking for votes.

Listen, we can solve immigration. We just heard an argument back and forth that we can’t solve immigration. I have a detailed immigration plan that is on my website, It was designed with Iowa’s own Congressman Steve King and Jeff Sessions, and…


… we have the tools in federal law to do this now. We can build the fence. We can triple the border patrol. We can end sanctuary cities by cutting off…


… funding to them. We can end welfare for those here illegally. And what is missing is the political will, because too many Democrats and, sadly, too many Republicans don’t want to solve this problem. If I am elected president…


… we will secure the border…

KELLY: OK, sir.

CRUZ: … and we will end the illegal immigration.

KELLY: Senator Paul.


You know how Washington works. Do you buy that?

PAUL: I was there and I saw the debate. I saw Ted Cruz say, “we’ll take citizenship off the table, and then the bill will pass, and I’m for the bill.”

The bill would involve legalization. He can’t have it both ways. But what is particularly insulting, though, is that he is the king of saying, “you’re for amnesty.” Everybody’s for amnesty except for Ted Cruz.

But it’s a falseness, and that’s an authenticity problem — that everybody he knows is not as perfect as him because we’re all for amnesty. I was for legalization. I think, frankly, if you have border security, you can have legalization. So was Ted, but now he says it wasn’t so. That’s not true.

KELLY: Go ahead, sir.


CRUZ: You know, John Adams famously said, “facts are are stubborn things.” The facts are are very, very simple. When that battle was waged, my friend Senator Rubio chose to stand with Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and support amnesty.

And I stood alongside Jeff Sessions and Steve King, and we led the fight against amnesty. And if you want to know who’s telling the truth, you should look and ask people like Jeff Sessions and Steve King and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, all of whom say, as Jeff Sessions said, responding to these false attacks just recently in Alabama — he said, “if it wasn’t for Ted Cruz, the Gang of Eight Rubio/Schumer bill would have passed. But because Ted stood up and helped lead the effort, millions rose up to kill it.



KELLY: Senator Rubio, even Chuck Schumer, your co-sponsor of that bill…

RUBIO: Yeah, but let me respond…

KELLY: … agrees with Ted Cruz on this. RUBIO: … no, I understand, but let me respond. I (ph) was mentioned on this — in this answer, and so I’m going to respond this way.

This is the lie that Ted’s campaign is built on, and Rand touched upon it — that he’s the most conservative guy, and everyone else is a — you know, everyone else is a rhino.

The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you’ve been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes. Ted, you worked for George W. Bush’s campaign…


You — you — you helped design George W. Bush’s — you helped design George W. Bush’s immigration policy. And then, when you got to the Senate, you did an interview with CBS News — I (ph) wasn’t even part of the video — where you said, on the issue of people that are here illegally, “we can reach a compromise.”

And then in the committee, you said, “I want to bring people out of the shadows.”


Now you want to trump Trump on immigration. But you can’t — we’re not gonna beat Hillary Clinton with someone who’s willing to say or do anything to win an election.

KELLY: Go ahead, Senator Cruz.


CRUZ: You know, I like Marco. He’s very charming. He’s very smooth. But the facts are simple. When he ran for election in the state of Florida, he told the people of Florida, “if you elect me, I will lead the fight against amnesty.”

When I ran in Texas, I told the people of Texas, “if you elect me, I will lead the fight against amnesty.” We both made the identical promises. But when we came to Washington, we made a different choice.

Marco made the choice to go the direction of the major donors — to support amnesty because he thought it was politically advantageous.


I honored my commitments, and as president, I will honor every commitment that I make to the men and women of this country.


KELLY: All right.

CHRISTIE: Megyn? KELLY: Go ahead, Governor Christie.

CHRISTIE: I want to ask the people of the audience. Like, I’m standing here, I — I watched the video of Senator Cruz. I watched the video of Senator Rubio. I heard what they said. And this is why you need to send someone from outside of Washington to Washington.


CHRISTIE: I feel like…


… I feel like I need — I feel like I need a Washington to English dictionary converter, right?


I mean, I heard what they both said, I saw it on the video. And the fact is this is what makes a difference when you’re a governor. You can change your mind. Ted can change his mind. Marco can change his mind. It’s perfectly legal in this country to change your mind. But when you’re a governor, you have to admit it. You can’t hide behind parliamentary tricks. That’s the difference, and that’s the kind of leader we need in the White House. Stop the Washington bull and let’s get things done.


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