Rubio to pope: 'No nation on Earth’ kinder to immigrants than US
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Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Energy: Critics pile on Trump plan to roll back major environmental law | Pick for Interior No. 2 official confirmed | JPMorgan Chase to stop loans for fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic MacGregor confirmed as Interior deputy chief GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman MORE (R-Fla.) rejected Pope FrancisPope FrancisThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Pope warns of 'inequitable solutions' after release of Trump Mideast peace plan Pope declines proposal for married priests MORE’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 TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE earlier Thursday by suggesting the GOP presidential front-runner’s call for a wall separating America and Mexico is “not Christian."