Rubio: We’ll ‘never have the votes’ for immigration reform until border secured

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday said Congress “will never have the votes” for a comprehensive immigration bill without first addressing border security, urging a step-by-step approach to the issue.

“We will never have the votes necessary to pass a one, in one bill, all of those things,” said Rubio on “Fox News Sunday” about border security, a path to legalization and an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

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“It just won't happen.”

Rubio is one of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” who crafted a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year. But the bill providing a path to legalized status for illegal immigrants in the country and beefed-up border security failed to move in the House. Conservatives dismissed it as “amnesty.”

A crisis this year marked by more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border has renewed debate over the nation’s immigration system.

“I've been dealing with this issue now for the better part of 18 months and I know now more than ever that if you are in favor of immigration reform, then we have to reevaluate the process by which we achieve it,” said Rubio.

“The only way we're going to ever make progress on this issue is to first deal with illegal immigration, secure the border, win people's confidence that in a reality this problem is under control,” he added.

Rubio said that after securing the border, Congress should focus on reforming the nation's immigration's laws by switching to a "merit-based system" and away from a "family-based system."

“And then step three, after you do those two things, would be to address in a reasonable, yet responsible way, the fact that we have nine, 10, 11 million people living in this country illegally,” he added.