Last night at the FOX News-Google Republican debate, immigration was once again front and center, even without front-runner Donald Trump.
Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush
This first video clip shows a heated conversation between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, including a transcript from FOX News about what the two candidates said:
MEGYN 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?
MARCO 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?
JEB 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 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.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio
After Rand Paul weighed in during the immigration debate (transcript below), Ted Cruz and Rubio sparred over the immigration issue for the third time in the debate cycle.
RAND 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.
TED 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.
Dulce Candy Asks a Question
After this immigration exchange, YouTube star Dulce Candy Ruiz —who spoke last year with Latino USA— asked the candidates a question about immigrants and their contribution to American society. An Iraq var veteran, Dulce came to the United States from Mexico as a child and eventually became a citizen.
KELLY: Let’s go to a YouTube question. Let’s get to a YouTube question. This is a question from a YouTube creator with over 2 million subscribers. Watch.
QUESTION: I’m Dulce Candy, a YouTube creator who immigrated to the United States from Mexico when I was a little girl. Since then, I am proud to say I served in the armed forces in Iraq, became a citizen and I am now an entrepreneur.
There are many immigrants who contribute positively to the American economy, but some of the comments in the campaign make us question our place in this country. If America does not seem like a welcoming place for immigrant entrepreneurs, will the American economy suffer?
KELLY: Dr. Carson, that’s one — that one’s for you.
CARSON: Oh, great.
As I said before, we are a land of immigrants, but we have to be intelligent about the way that we form our immigration policies, and that’s one of the reasons that I have called on us to declare war on the Islamic State because we need to reorient our immigration policies and our visa policies for people who are coming into this country because there are many people out there who want to destroy us.
Now, I recognize that the vast majority of people coming in here probably are not those kinds of people, but that’s not good enough. If you’ve got 10 people coming to your house and you know one of them is a terrorist, you’re probably going to keep them all out.
You know, we probably have to figure out a way to make sure that we keep America safe.
BUSH: Can I — can I — I just…
KELLY: Go ahead.
BUSH: That beautiful young woman who’s an entrepreneur who served in the military, first of all, is deserving of our respect for service in the military and the fact that she’s an entrepreneur.
And we should be a welcoming nation. Our identity is not based on race or ethnicity, it’s based on a set of shared values. That’s American citizenship. And Dulce Candy — a pretty cool name, actually — that is now an entrepreneur over YouTube is part of that American spirit, and we should celebrate it as conservatives. That’s what we believe in.
You can — you can deal with the threat of terror and also recognize that this country should be aspirational across the board.
RUBIO: And I think that’s the false choice…
… that’s the — that’s the false choice in this whole debate about immigration. Of course, we’re going to be a nation of immigrants. By the way, no nation on earth is more generous than America is. Every single year close to a million people emigrate to the United States legally. There’s no nation on earth that comes close to that number.
I think the only argument is are we a sovereign country, are we not allowed to choose who comes in, when they come in and how they come in? And that’s not what’s happening now.
KELLY: All right.
RUBIO: I think the other problem is we have a legal immigration system that’s outdated, it’s primarily based on whether you have family members living here. In the 21st century, it has to be more of a merit-based system, and that is why our legal immigration system is in need of modernization. And we will always celebrate legal immigration like Dulce’s great story.
KELLY: All right. We’re moving on.
Jeb Bush on Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis
A question about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis also made the GOP debate.
BRET BAIER: Senator Cruz, thank you.
Governor Bush, you’ve advocated for statehood for Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican economy is collapsing under unsustainable debt burden. Only about 1 million of its 4 million residents are currently employed. So should American citizens who you say are already overtaxed, bail out Puerto Rico as well?
BUSH: No, they shouldn’t. And I believe that Puerto Rico ought to have the right of self-determination. If I was a Puerto Rican, I’d vote for statehood so that they have full citizenship. They serve in the military. They would have to pay federal taxes. They would — they would accept the responsibilities of full U.S. citizenship. But they should have the right of determine — self-determination.
Before you get to that, though, Puerto Rico is going to have to deal with the structural problems they face. You know, it’s — it’s a fact that if you can pay for a $79 one-way ticket to Orlando, and you can escape the challenges of a declining economy and high crime rates, you move to Orlando.
And a lot of people are doing that. And the spiraling out-of- control requires Puerto Rico to make structural reforms. The federal government can play a role in allowing them to do that, but they should not — the process of statehood or the status of Puerto Rico won’t be solved until we get to the bigger issue of how you deal with the structural economic problems they’re facing right now.