(CNSNews.com)- During the Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said that the United States must secure its border with a wall as one step toward dealing with its immigration problems.
Rubio was asked to respond to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas saying that all the other candidates in the debate except him had previously supported amnesty for illegal aliens.
“Well, let me say that legal immigration is not an issue I read about in the newspaper,” Rubio said. “Immigration, illegal immigration, all the good aspects of immigration and all the negative ones as well, I live with. My family's immigrants. My neighbors are all immigrants. My in-laws are all immigrants.”
“So I've seen every aspect of it, and I can tell you America doesn't have one immigration problem, it has three,” he said.
“First, despite the fact that we are the most generous country in the history of the world in allowing people to come here legally, we have people still coming illegally,” he said.
“Second, we have a legal immigration system that no longer works. It primary is built on the basis of whether you have a relative living here instead of merit,” he said.
“And third, we have 11 million or 12 million people, many of whom have been here for longer than a decade who are already here illegally,” he said.
“We must deal with all three of these problems,” he said. “We cannot deal with all three of these problems in one massive piece of legislation. I learned that. We tried it that way.
“Here's the way forward: First, we must secure our border, the physical border, with a wall, absolutely,” he said. “But we also need to have an entry/exit tracking system. Forty percent of the people who come here illegally come legally, and then they overstay the visa. We also need a mandatory e-verify system.
“After we've done that,” he said, “step two would be to modernize our legal immigration system so you come to America on the basis of what you can contribute economically, not whether or not simply you have a relative living here.”