RUBIO: Well, first of all, the existing law allows people that are here illegally to gain access to citizenship. What it says is you have to go back to your country of birth and you have to wait 10 years, and then you can apply for it. All we've done here is create an alternative to that that they can access, and the alternative we've created is going to be longer, more expensive and more difficult to navigate. It will actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years, and applied for a green card. And so, secondly, we've not awarding anything. All we're giving people the opportunity to eventually do is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that will be available to everybody else. And number three, in exchange for all of that, we are going to get the toughest enforcement measures in the history of this country. We're going to secure the border to the extent that's possible. We're going to have an entry and exit system to track visas, because 40 percent of our illegal immigrants are people that entered legally and overstayed, and we are going to have e-verify, universally, which means that you will not be able to find a job in the United States if you're not legally here.
KARL: Now, one of your toughest Republican critics on this, Senator Sessions, is listening to this interview right now. And he asked the question, is this bill enforcement first or is it legalization first? And the bottom line is, with legalization being in just six months, the answer is, this is legalization first, isn't it?
RUBIO: Well, first - yeah, but it's, well, but it's important to understand that. If you do just – that was my original position. The problem is what do we do in the meantime? While you're doing all these enforcement mechanisms, what do you do with the millions of people that are undocumented? Is it a big game of cat and mouse, where if we catch you, you have to leave, but if we don't catch you, in the future you get to apply? I want to know who's here now, and I want to freeze the problem in place so it does not get worse. That's the first thing. The second thing is we don't want a rush on the border. We don't want people to think, well, they are still doing this enforcement stuff, but at some point in a few years, they're going to actually start some process, so let me sneak in now to take advantage of it. We don't want that either. What I want is to freeze the problem that's in place.
Look, I'm not happy about the fact that we have millions of people here illegally, and quite frankly, those decisions that led to that happening were made when I was in ninth grade. But that's what we have. This is not a theory, it is the reality, and what we have today is we don't do anything about it. It's de facto amnesty. What I'm saying is, let's bring these people out so we can figure out who needs to leave and who we're going to give a chance to earn their way towards one day being able to apply for a green card, the same way everybody else does. And I think that's why that is a better approach.
KARL: All right, let's talk for a second about the politics here. What is at stake for the Republican party here? What will it do to your party if the conservatives who oppose this succeed in killing it?