The Florida Senator used to talk entirely about border security, attacked Ronald Reagan for supporting amnesty in 1986, criticized McCain's past reform attempts, and said granting amnesty would only encourage more illegal immigration. He's now singing a different tune with a bill that has fines, background checks and other requirements allowing illegal immigrants to access the legal immigration system.
"I am for securing our borders, and I am not in favor of amnesty."
"In 1986 Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million people. You know what happened, in addition to becoming 11 million a decade later? There were people trying to enter the country legally, who had done the paperwork, who were here legally, who were going through the process, who claimed, all of a sudden, 'No, no no no , I'm illegal.' Because it was easier to do the amnesty program than it was to do the legal process."
"If you grant amnesty, the message that you're sending is that if you come in this country and stay here long enough, we will let you stay. And no one will ever come through the legal process if you do that."
"I believe we need to secure our borders and fix our VISA program. Only after we do that can we move on to fixing legal immigration and other issues like guest worker programs. We need to secure our borders before we even talk about something like a guest worker program — but, I am not in favor of amnesty. I think it would be demoralizing and destructive."
"As far as amnesty, that's where the governor and I disagree. He would have voted for the McCain plan. I think that plan is wrong, and the reason why I think it's wrong is that if you grant amnesty, as the governor proposes that we do, in any form, whether it's back of the line or so forth, you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America."
Well, we have a path for citizenship. It's called coming legally into this country. The ones who are already here. You can't do it. Look, let me say two things about it. Number one is I think that the vast majority of the people that are in this country illegally, whether they entered illegally and overstayed their visas, they're here because they want to provide their families with opportunity. I get that. I understand that. And I know that because I know people in that status.
That being said, America cannot be the only country in the world that does not observe or enforce its immigration laws. A key part of your sovereignty is the ability to control the influx and out flow of your people is the ability to secure your border. And you're never going to be able to do that if you have an immigration system that says 'come to this country illegally. If you're able to stay here long enough, you're able to stay here forever.' And you're never going to have a legal immigration system that works if you grant amnesty.
6.October 2009 (attacking Charlie Crist)
"He supported cap and trade. He supported the stimulus package. He supported amnesty for illegal aliens. These are all major issues that are going to be coming up in Washington."
"You have a right to believe in those things but it is hard to stand up to Barack Obama when you agree with him."
"I would vote against anything that grants amnesty because I think it destroys your ability to enforce the existing law. I think it's unfair to the people who are standing in line and waiting to come in legally. I would vote against anything that has amnesty in it.
"I hope Congress and the Obama Administration will use the Arizona legislation not as an excuse to try and jam through amnesty legislation, but to finally act on border states' requests for help with security and fix the things about our immigration system that can be fixed right now – securing the border, reforming the visa and entry process, and cracking down on employers who exploit illegal immigrants."
"First of all, earned path to citizenship is basically code for amnesty. It's what they call it.....This has to do with the bottom line that America cannot be the only country in the world that does not enforce its immigration laws. It is unfair to the people that have legally entered this country to create an alternative pathway for individuals who entered illegally and knowingly did so."
"They're God's children, but they're here illegally...You can't round up 11 million people because we don't live in a police state. But you can't grant amnesty either because if you do, you will destroy any hope of having a legal immigration system that works. You will send a message that all you have to do is come into this country, stay here long enough and we will let you stay."