A nod of support for comprehensive immigration reform from former GOP vice presidential hopeful Rep. Paul Ryan, via Facebook:

Senator Rubio is exactly right on the need to fix our broken immigration system. I support the principles he’s outlined: modernization of our immigration laws; stronger security to curb illegal immigration; and respect for the rule of law in addressing the complex challenge of the undocumented population. Our future depends on an immigration system that works.

Sen. Rubio’s immigration plan has been dubbed a “charge up the middle.”  As the son of immigrants, Rubio has distinctive energy and is in a unique position to marry conservative values with common-sense reforms, all while respecting the delicacy of the situation.  Rubio’s plan seeks to do the following:

  • Gain “operational control” of the border first
  • Enhance employment checks
  • Raise the hard cap on high-tech immigration
  • Create a guest-worker program for low-skill labor
  • A lengthy but not indefinite process for normalizing longer-term illegal residents

That last point will probably be the largest sticking point with anti-amnesty conservatives on Capitol Hill.  Rubio undoubtedly understands this fact and is offering a more even-handed approach than the liberal Left that requires illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship and get in line:

“Here’s how I envision it,” he says. “They would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check.” Anyone who committed a serious crime would be deported. “They would be fingerprinted,” he continues. “They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they’ve been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country.”

The special regime he envisions is a form of temporary limbo. “Assuming they haven’t violated any of the conditions of that status,” he says, the newly legalized person could apply for permanent residency, possibly leading to citizenship, after some years—but Mr. Rubio doesn’t specify how many years. He says he would also want to ensure that enforcement has improved before opening that gate.

The waiting time for a green card “would have to be long enough to ensure that it’s not easier to do it this way than it would be the legal way,” he says. “But it can’t be indefinite either. I mean it can’t be unrealistic, because then you’re not really accomplishing anything. It’s not good for our country to have people trapped in this status forever. It’s been a disaster for Europe.”

The Wall Street Journal has more on Rubio’s immigration plan here.