Marco Rubio Speech on Immigration at HLN Conference

Rising GOP star Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) gave an impressive speech on immigration Friday to the Hispanic Leadership Network conference, an event led by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

The Miami Herald reports that Sen. Rubio’s “sweeping” immigration speech took swipes at both Republicans and Democrats for playing politics with an issue so crucial to hispanics, calling for a compassionate approach for dealing with the issue of illegal immigration.

The presumptive top pick for running mate to any of the remaining Republican presidential candidates conquered an early challenge during his remarks, addressing a group of protesters at the event who stood and interrupted Sen. Rubio’s speech.

“Let me tell you guys something; these young men and women raise a very legitimate issue,” Sen. Rubio said. “They came here to a crowd that they know might not be kind to their point of view on issues. And they had the bravery and the courage to raise their voices. I thank God I’m in a country where I can do that and I want them to hear what I have to say.”

CBS Miami notes that in his speech, Sen. Rubio spoke of the main problem in immigration being how to balance and honor “our legacy of immigrants” with “our legacy as a nation of laws.”

“It’s impossible to walk a block in Miami, in Los Angeles, San Antonio without running into someone who is being deeply impacted by a broken legal immigration system,” Sen. Rubio told the conference.

Sen. Rubio had a message to fellow conservatives similar to comments he made earlier in the week when he denounced the language used an ad attacking Mitt Romney produced by the campaign of Newt Gingrich.

“For those of us who come from the conservative movement, we must admit that there are those among us who have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable, inexcusable, and we must admit, myself included, that sometimes we’ve been too slow in condemning that language for what it is,” Sen.Rubio sad.

“But at the same time, on the left there are those that are using this issue for pure politics creating unrealistic and unreasonable expectations among those in the Latino community across this country.”

Sen. Rubio did not directly address the DREAM Act, but said that “there is broad support in America for the notion that for those children that were brought here at a very young age, by their parents through no fault of their own, who have grown up here their entire lives, and now want to serve in the military or are high academic achievers and want to go to school and contribute to America’s future, I think there is broad bipartisan support for the notion that we should somehow figure out a way to accommodate them.

“Figure out a way to accommodate them in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future.”

Sen. Rubio’s remarks Friday have received acclaim from several media commentators.

“GOP Golden Boy Marco Rubio revealed the magnitude of his star power today,” writes the Business Insider’s Grace Wyler. “Delivering an impassioned speech on immigration that showed exactly why he is the true heir apparent of the Republican Party.”

“Senator Rubio did little to disappoint the party’s faithful,” FIU Professor Ediberto Roman writes in the Huffington Post. “He was indeed impressive. Whether his impressive approach elevates the conversation and results in change that benefits this country is, however, still an open question. Nevertheless, his poise was remarkable.”

Fox News reports that even as Sen.Rubio called for a softer tone on immigration, he reiterated his emphasis for bi-partisan support for the need for a modernized system, a new Visa program, E-Verify, tougher border security and a functional guest worker program.

“I challenge the Republican nominees and all Republicans to not just be the anti-illegal immigration party,” he said. “That’s not who we are and that’s not who we should be, we should be the pro-legal immigration party.”

Here’s a transcript and video of Sen. Rubio’s speech: