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Rubio: Obama could 'basically legalize' millions of immigrants if reform fails

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a key architect of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, warned Tuesday that President Obama could use an executive order to legalize millions of illegal immigrants if Congress does not act on the issue.

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“I believe that this president tempted, will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, to issue an executive order as he did for the Dream Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen,” Rubio told WFLA’s “The Morning Show with Preston Scott." 

"Now we won't get any E-Verify, we won't get any border security, but he'll legalize them," he added.

In 2012, the Obama administration announced it would stop deporting some illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they did not break any laws and enrolled in either college or the military. 

Some immigration advocates have urged Obama to do the same with the whole population of 11 million immigrants who have entered the country illegally, if efforts to reform the nation's laws remain stymied in the Republican-controlled House.

A bill in the Senate that would provide a pathway to citizenship for those illegal immigrants who paid back taxes and penalties, while boosting border security and employment verification checks, passed with 68 votes earlier this year.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the House won't move the Senate measure and will take up its own reforms that have a support of a majority of the GOP conference.

In his interview, Rubio warned that if the House failed to act, Republicans might not see those border security and employment provisions from the Senate bill.

“I have tried to come up as best as possible, given who controls the Senate, a way to start the conversation to at least address some of these issues,” Rubio said. “It only gets worse as time goes on.”

Asked last month if he could unilaterally legalize illegal immigrants, the president said "probably not."

“I think that it is very important for us to recognize that the way to solve this problem has to be legislative," the president said in an interview with Univision. "I can do some things and have done some things that make a difference in the lives of people by determining how our enforcement should focus.”

Obama stressed that immigration reform is "a problem that needs to be fixed legislatively."

“So, I’m not going to speculate on the House bill failing," he added. "I’m going to make sure that I do everything I can to help it succeed.”