Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio offered a measure of support for President Obama’s first executive amnesty program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, during a recent interview he conducted in Spanish this week with Univision’s Jorge Ramos.
Rubio’s comments mark a reversal of sorts from criticism he offered of DACA last year, and they also put him at odds with the conservative Republican base, which he will need in his corner if he hopes to win the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
“But DACA, I think it’s important not to cancel it from one moment to the next because you already have people benefiting from it.” Rubio told Ramos in the interview, which was posted online and translated by Grabien.
Rubio did say that he believes DACA, which Obama announced in 2012 and granted amnesty to so-called DREAMers, should end, but only after immigration reform is passed.
“Well, at some point it is going to have to end, that is to say, it can’t continue being the permanent policy of the United States,” said Rubio, who conducted two interviews with Ramos: one in Spanish and the other in English. Ramos did not ask Rubio about DACA or immigration for the English-language discussion.
“I believe, if I become President, it is going to be possible to achieve immigration reform,” Rubio told Ramos in Spanish.
That rationale is similar to what Obama has used to defend his implementation of DACA and his more recent executive amnesty program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. Obama has repeatedly said that he acted unilaterally because Congress failed “to put a bill on my desk.”
Critics of Obama’s two amnesty pushes argue that his actions were illegal and unconstitutional.
Rubio’s comments to Ramos on DACA are much softer than statements he made last July during the height of the flood of Central American unaccompanied minors.
“Furthermore, because the recent wave from Central America spiked after DACA was announced, it is in our interest to wind down this program,” Rubio said in a statement released on July 24. “If you are not currently in it, you should not be eligible for it.”
“For President Obama to raise hopes it may actually be unilaterally expanded is irresponsible and threatens to make this problem even worse,” Rubio stated then.
Immigration will likely prove to be Rubio’s biggest hurdle in winning the GOP presidential nomination. He and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are the two Republican hopefuls whose views on immigration reform are seen as most out of step with the conservative Republican base.
Rubio came under heavy criticism for his involvement in 2013’s so-called “Gang of Eight” immigration reform proposal. If it had passed, the measure would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as well as work visa options.
Updated to reflect a more precise translation of the interview.