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Rubio Defends Immigration Proposal: "This Is Not Amnesty"

MARCO RUBIO: This is not amnesty. Amnesty is the forgiveness of something. Amnesty is anything that says do it illegally, it will be cheaper and easier.

Here's what people need to understand. Under the existing law today, if you are illegally in the United States, you are not prohibited from getting a green card and ultimately getting a citizenship. The only thing is, you have to go back to your home country, you have to wait 10 years and then you can apply for it.

And all we're saying is, we're going to create an alternative to that. That will still be in place, but we're going to create an alternative that says, OK, you want to stay here, you have to wait more than 10 years, you have to pay this fine, you have to pay your registration fee, you have to be gainfully employed, you won't qualify for any federal benefits. And then, after all of that, you don't get to apply for anything until the enforcement mechanisms are in place.

And I would argue to you that it will be cheaper, faster and easier for people to go back home and wait 10 years than it will be to go through this process that I've outlined. And that's why it's not amnesty.

And bottom line is, we don't award anything. You have to qualify. You have to apply for it. And that's the key distinction.

So, I agree, if somehow being in the country illegally is cheaper, easier and quicker than doing it the right way, I wouldn't support that. That's why I haven't supported certain efforts in the past, because I thought they did that.

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