Marco Rubio: I Still Believe In Comprehensive Immigration Reform, But "The Votes Aren't There"

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Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio told FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace he still believe in comprehensive immigration reform, but the votes just aren't there. Rubio this is due to the 2014 border crisis and "unilateral actions the president took in his executive orders."

Rubio acknowledged former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) "partially lost" the Republican primary in 2014 because of his support for comprehensive immigration reform.

"The problem is the votes aren't there in the House," Rubio said Sunday. "And as you know, for example, the Majority Leader of the House partially lost his election on the perception that he was in favor of immigration reform and that impacted the way others voted as well."

Rubio also surprisingly said there is support for comprehensive immigration reform, but Congressmen and women "are going to vote based on what they're hearing from their constituents and others."

"Clearly leaders stand for the idea you need to do something but you also have to deal with the reality that in the political process people are going to vote based on what they're hearing from their constituents and others," Rubio told Wallace.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Perhaps the biggest issue that you're going to have to face in this campaign is immigration. Back in 2013 you were one of the authors of the comprehensive immigration plan which included a tough border enforcement, crackdown on employers and also a path to citizenship. Here's what you said back then about the 11 million people in this country illegally.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (in 2013

WALLACE: But after it passed the Senate and ran into trouble in the House, you bailed on comprehensive immigration reform. How come?

RUBIO: Well, I didn't. It's not that we bailed, it's that we don't have the votes to pass it. In fact, we have less votes for immigration reform today than we did two years ago when that passed because of the last election, because of unilateral actions the president took in his executive orders, because of a border crisis.

I still believe we need to do immigration reform. I still talk about that on the campaign trial. I outlined it in my book, American Dream. The problem is we can't do in one big piece of legislation. The votes aren't there and the more time we follow that path, the more time we're wasting to address it.

WALLACE: But aren't leaders supposed to shape public opinion rather than just follow it? I mean shouldn't you have campaigned for this? I remember when you came into FOX back in 2013 and you made a very articulate and compelling case for comprehensive reform. Why not stand for it and fight for it?

RUBIO: We did, but the problem is the votes aren't there in the House. And as you know, for example, the Majority Leader of the House partially lost his election on the perception that he was in favor of immigration reform and that impacted the way others voted as well. So, clearly leaders stand for the idea you need to do something but you also have to deal with the reality that in the political process people are going to vote based on what they're hearing from their constituents and others.

And that's what I'm basically saying -- the votes are not there for comprehension immigration reform and that this stage, after two illegal executive orders, after a migratory crisis on the border with minors last summer, the context in which we are having this debate is much different. If we want to move forward on immigration reform, the first thing we are going to have to do is prove to the American people that future illegal immigration is under control.

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