It’s fairly well known that prior to his role in the Gang of 8, Marco Rubio was opposed to an across the board amnesty, and was critical of the 1986 amnesty.
In this October 2009 interview, uncovered by Morgen Richmond (formerly of Verum Serum), Rubio takes a particularly hard line, insisting that “you cannot grant amnesty,” and going on to explain how amnesty undermines the entire immigration system going forward.
The interview is pretty devastating to Rubio’s role in the Gang of 8 immigration bill which puts legalization and a path to citizenship ahead of enforcement of current laws and securing both the borders and the visa system (starting at 0:38):
The problem is the American people have no trust in the federal government, and they’re not going to have a trust in the federal government until the federal government deals with the issue of illegal immigration. Until the federal government gives people confidence that the law is being enforced, that the border is being secured, that our visa process is no longer being abused.
So I think step one is to enforce our existing laws. Secure our borders, fix our visa entry problem…deal with the illegal immigration problem first.
When the American people have confidence that the federal government has done that then we can move to step two. And step two is create a legal immigration that works, that once again is a positive for America.
You cannot grant amnesty. If you grant amnesty you will send a message that all you have to do is come into America illegally, stay here long enough, and we will let you stay.
Number 2, you will destroy any hopes you have of having a legal immigration system that works. If the American people see us grant amnesty they will never again believe in legal immigration, they will never again support it. And that’s wrong for our country, bad for our future.
In fact in ’86 when Reagan created an amnesty program, about 3 million people were granted amnesty. The result was that you had a bunch of people standing in line to enter legally who all claimed to be illegal because it was easier to get through the amnesty program. So we can’t have amnesty.
And I think if you have a guest worker program in place that functions, the illegal folks that are here now will go back home through attrition.
Update: The Shark Tank has an interview with Rubio from February 2009 in which Rubio also came out strongly against amnesty.