Marco Rubio

In a Spanish-language interview Sunday with the network Univision, Sen. Marco Rubio, the leading Republican on the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform group, made his strongest statement yet that legalization of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants must happen before any new border security or internal enforcement measures are in place, and will in no way be conditional on any security requirements.

“Let’s be clear,” Rubio said. “Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence.”

In most of his public appeals for the Gang of Eight bill, Rubio has stressed its enforcement provisions, saying that border security must come before immigrants are granted legal permanent resident status. What he has not stressed so much is the fact that the bill would legalize the 11 million almost immediately, after they have passed background checks and paid some sort of fine. That would happen before any new security measures are completed, or even begun.

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