On the cusp of introducing a new immigration bill, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) appeared on five Sunday morning news shows and strongly denied that the proposal will offer amnesty for illegal immigrants.
"Amnesty is the forgiveness of something. There will be consequences for having violated the law," Rubio said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "No one who has done it the wrong way will get in before [legal immigrants]...in no way will having done this the wrong way be a reward.
Instead, Rubio said the bipartisan deal being proposed by the so-called Gang of Eight "gives people access to the legal immigration system." Under the process, those in the country illegally would need to come forward and pass a "rigorous background check." If they pass, they would pay fines and application fees to receive a guest worker permit allowing them to stay and "work, travel and pay taxes." After 10 years, they would qualify to go through the existing legalization system.
He said the agreement modernizes the legal immigration system to make it more merit-based and jobs-based, rather than dependent on whether you know someone already living in the U.S. It will also put in place more effective enforcement mechanisms, Rubio said.
He said that while "obviously there's political ramifications to everything in Washington, that certainly isn't the reason I'm involved in doing this."