(CNSNews.com) - Closing down mosques to prevent radicalization, as Sen. Marco Rubio once suggested, is a "huge mistake," Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday at the Republican debate in Des Moines.
"But I would say that if you want to defend the country, it begins with border security. And this is where I've had my disagreement with Senator Rubio."
"When he brought forward the 'Gang of Eight' bill to give citizenship to those who came here illegally, I put forward an amendment that says we should have more scrutiny on those who are coming as students, those who are coming as immigrants, those who are coming as refugees, because we had two refugees come to my town in Bowling Green and try to attack us.
"Marco opposed this because...he made a deal with Chuck Schumer that he would oppose any conservative amendments. And I think that's a mistake, and I just don't think Marco can have it both ways. You can't be in favor of, defend us against Islam -- radical Islam -- if you're not for border security."
Rubio jumped in with a response:
"The first thing -- I don't know of anyone who's not in favor of fully vetting people that are trying to come into this country, other than perhaps Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I think we all support that. Rand's amendment was not the right way to do it.
"I do believe that people who are trying to come to the United States -- this country has a right to know who they are and why they are coming.
"And that's why I've been clear, when I am the president of the United States of America, we don't know who you are, and we don't know why you're trying to come to the United States, you are not going to get in, because the radical threat that we now face from ISIS is extraordinary and unprecedented, and when I'm president, we are keeping ISIS out of America."
Elsewhere in the debate, Rubio insisted that he does not support "blanket amnesty."
"What I've always said is that this issue does need to be solved. They've been talking about this issue for 30 years, and nothing ever happens. And, I'm going to tell you exactly how we're going to deal with it when I am president.
"Number one, we're going to keep ISIS out of America. If we don't know who you are, or why you're coming, you will not get into the United States.
"Number two, we're going to enforce our immigration laws. I am the son and grandson of immigrants. And I know that securing our borders is not anti-immigrant and we will do it.
"We'll hire 20,000 new border agents instead of 20,000 new IRS agents. We will finish the 700 miles of fencing and walls our nation needs. We'll have mandatory E-verify, a mandatory entry/exit tracking system and until all of that is in place and all of that is working and we can prove to the people of this country that illegal immigration is under control, nothing else is going to happen.
"We are not going to round up and deport 12 million people, but we're not going to hand out citizenship cards, either. There will be a process. We will see what the American people are willing to support. But it will not be unconstitutional executive orders like the ones Barack Obama has forced on us."
Jeb Bush told his fellow Republicans, "We should have a path to legal status for the 12 million people that are here illegally. It means, come out from the shadows, pay a fine, earn legal status by working, by paying taxes, learning English. Not committing crimes and earn legal status where you're not cutting in front of the line for people that are patiently waiting outside.
"I think that is the -- I think that's the conservative consensus pragmatic approach to how to solve this problem."