In an interview with Univision, senatorial candidate and son of Cuban immigrants, Marco Rubio (R-FL) told the Spanish language network that he doesn’t like to use the term “illegal” and prefers “undocumented” when talking about immigrants in the U.S. without papers:
UNIVISION: Is there a difference between an illegal and an undocumented?
RUBIO: Well “illegal” is a term that I don’t like to use, though it is a violation of the law to enter the U.S. with documents. They’re humans. I prefer to talk about the issue as “undocumented” because they are people who don’t have documents that follow the law.
Watch the Univision video and past clips of Rubio’s immigration remarks [In English and Spanish]:
I couldn’t find any clips in which Rubio ever employed the term “undocumented.” To his credit, in recent months, he has talked about undocumented immigrants as “people who come to the U.S. illegally.” However, when he was fighting a tough primary in which he tried to portray his opponent, Gov. Charlie Crist, as soft on immigration, Rubio didn’t hesitate to use the term “illegal immigrant”:
In February, Rubio opted to use “illegal immigrants” when arguing that undocumented immigrants should be excluded from the census, saying:
“Gov. Crist’s position to include illegal immigrants in this count would dilute the voting power of every American citizen. It would actually incentivize politicians to perpetuate our broken immigration system by rewarding states with large illegal immigrant populations with a louder voice in Washington.”
When he “delivered a six-minute discourse on immigration policy” back in November in which he slammed Ronald Reagan’s support of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Rubio stated:
“There were people trying to enter the country legally, who had done the paperwork, who were here legally, who were going through the process, who claimed, all of a sudden, ‘No, no no no , I’m illegal.’ Because it was easier to do the amnesty program than it was to do the legal process.”
Rubio also appears to have no problem with the fact that the term regularly appears on his website:
“Crist’s only real Social Security plan is to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants but that has actually been debunked as an idea that would lead to Social Security’s bankruptcy sooner rather than later.”
“Marco believes that our nation’s immigration policy should consist of border enforcement, securing the border, fixing the visa process and ensuring that no law extends amnesty to illegal immigrants.”
Many in the Latino and immigrant communities find the term “illegal immigrant” offensive because it “qualifies an entire person, rather than an act.”
This past weekend Rubio stated on CNN’s State of the Union that he supports fixing the legal immigration system so that “people in this country without documents” can go back to their home countries and reenter the country legally. In his interview with Univision, Rubio explained that he supports modernizing the immigration system so that undocumented immigrants can enter the U.S. through a process that works, but didn’t mention anything about going back to their “homeland.” You can watch the full interview here.