A long, long time ago, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) got on the Senate floor and made a heartwarming speech about giving millions of undocumented immigrants the chance at a pathway to citizenship before casting a decisive vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he helped craft. As many bills do in a contentious, bicameral Congress, the bill died. Wounded from defeat, Rubio retreated from his own bill, stating that he’s learned his lesson, sharply tipping his support instead towards improving border security measures and piecemeal legislation.
Now as a Republican presidential contender in a field dominated by candidates supporting mass deportation and the end to birthright citizenship (currently a constitutional right granted to kids born on U.S. soil), Rubio wants it known that he will end the only protection that some undocumented immigrants have — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created through executive action in 2012 by President Obama. The executive action has since granted temporary deportation relief and work authorization to as many as 681,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
During a Young Professionals event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Rubio said that he would eventually end the DACA program, even if Congress didn’t act on a permanent legislative fix, according to at least two reporters, MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin and The Guardian’s Sabrina Siddiqui.
Rubio made clear just now that he will eventually end DACA — even if congress doesn't pass DREAM Act or other protections for them
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) November 4, 2015
Rubio says he will eventually end DACA even if Congress doesn't pass immigration reform under his watch.
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) November 4, 2015
In video provided by the advocacy group American Bridge, Rubio said that DACA “cannot be the permanent policy of the United States.”
Rubio recently told Univision host Jorge Ramos that he wouldn’t “immediately revoke” the DACA program, but that “I hope it will end because of some reform to the immigration laws,” pointing to a permanent legislative fix. Rubio said at the time that he couldn’t support DACA’s expansion known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which would have covered undocumented parents of legal residents and U.S. citizens. The DAPA program is currently held up through a temporary injunction issued by a Texas judge.
In the past, Rubio championed for undocumented immigrants to have a voice, including calling undocumented youths brought to the country at a young age “real people” in 2012. But since abandoning his own comprehensive immigration bill, he’s said that he’s become “realistic on immigration,” saying that border security is the “only way forward.”
The DACA program has benefited at least 27,225 immigrants in Rubio’s home state of Florida.