Rubio to pope: 'No nation on Earth’ kinder to immigrants than US
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Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioScottish beer company offering ‘tiny cans’ for Trump’s ‘tiny hands’ The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies for Putin summit: 'He’s not my enemy’ Overnight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war MORE (R-Fla.) rejected Pope Francis’s criticism of U.S. border security Thursday, arguing America has long welcomed legal immigrants on its soil.

“There’s no nation on Earth that’s more compassionate on immigration than we are,” he said after a rally in Anderson, S.C.

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“We accept a million people a year into the U.S., legally, every year,” the GOP presidential candidate added. "Mexico doesn’t do that. No other nation in the world does that.”

Rubio then argued that America must protect its territorial security or risk exposing its citizens to danger instead.

“I’m an elected official in the United States of America in the federal government and our No. 1 obligation is keep people safe and immigration is a part of that,” he said. "This country does not just have a right but an obligation to control the process by which the people enter the United States and by which people immigrate into the United States.

“The Vatican controls who comes in, when they come in and how they come in as a nation-state or a city-state,” Rubio added of the papacy. "As a result the United States has a right to do the same.”

Rubio, a Catholic, said he still admires Francis despite disagreeing with the spiritual leader’s assessment of America’s border policies.

“As a Roman Catholic, he’s the head of the church and he’s the successor of [Saint] Peter. I have tremendous respect for him.”

Francis recently concluded a trip to Mexico by laying a wreath on the border between both nations symbolizing refugees who died attempting passage into the U.S.

He also outraged Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE earlier Thursday by suggesting the GOP presidential front-runner’s call for a wall separating America and Mexico is “not Christian."