Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioPoll: Clinton has 4-point lead over Trump in Florida Five takeaways from Florida Senate debate The Trail 2016: Comeback in the works? MORE (R-Fla.) says immigration reform will not be a political "bonanza" for Republicans, and they do not need a solution to the issue before the 2016 election.
Rubio, a possible presidential candidate, was asked in an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday if "Republicans need to have some sort of immigration solution before 2016."
The comment stands in contrast to the prevailing argument that Republicans need to act on the issue in order to shore up their support among Hispanic voters.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump on primary rivals who don't back him: 'I don't know how they live with themselves' The Trail 2016: Who is really winning? Graham: GOP Senate could rein in Clinton White House MORE (R-S.C.) told CNN on Sunday that Republicans' chances of winning the White House in 2016 will be "almost nonexistent" if they don't move on immigration reform.
Rubio says he does still want to act on immigration, but not for political reasons. He was once a leading champion of the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year and included a path to citizenship, but has since backed off that push.
His newer proposal is to pass a border security measure first, and only after moving on it to creating a path to permanent residency.
Asked if he was dropping a pathway to full citizenship, Rubio said, "Once you have permanent residency, which is a green card, existing law allows you to apply for citizenship."
"We might prohibit people who came here illegally and got green cards under this process from ever becoming citizens," he added. "And if that’s what we have to do to get this thing passed, I would be open to it. But I don’t think that’s a wise thing to do."
As Rubio also told NBC's "Meet the Press" this month, he argues that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's moves toward a presidential run do not affect his decision, though it could take away supporters in his home state.
"If I don’t run, it won’t be because Jeb is running," Rubio said. "Maybe if you’re going to run for county commissioner or to be on the Mosquito Abatement Board or something like that, you may not want to run against a friend of yours."
In a possible preview of a Republican primary battle, Rubio has been sparring with Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election How low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? MORE (R-Ky.) over President Obama's move to open relations with Cuba, which Paul supports and Rubio strongly opposes, as well as broader foreign policy.
"Do you think that Rand Paul is on to something with this whole noninterventionist thing?" the Times asked Rubio. "No," he said. "If you have a global economy, you cannot retreat from the world."