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Residency vs. citizenship: Rubio splits from Bush on immigration reform

US Republican Senator from Florida Marco Rubio speaks at the BuzzFeed Brews newsmaker event in Washington on February 5, 2013. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Former Gov. Jeb Bush may have been a long-time mentor of Sen. Marco Rubio, but the two Floridians have distinctly different takes on how to fix our country's immigration system.

On Monday, Bush unveiled his ideas for immigration in promoting his new book, Immigration Wars.   Bush, a potential 2016 presidential contender, said that providing a path to citizenship would violate the rule of law and encourage more illegal immigration.  Instead, he proposes to give illegal immigrants a path to legal permanent residency.

"Our proposal is a proposal that looks forward. And if we want to create an immigration policy that's going to work, we can't continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration," Bush said during an interview on NBC's Today. "I think it is important that there is a natural friction between our immigrant heritage and the rule of law. This is the right place, I think, to be in that sense. Not to take away people's rights."

In response, Rubio drew a clear distinction between Bush's plan and his own:

Rubio told reporters Monday evening that he disagrees with Bush’s position that illegal immigrants should not get a pathway to citizenship.

“I just personally, ultimately concluded that to permanently say that you’re going to have millions of people that can never apply for citizenship hasn’t really worked well for other countries that have tried it,” Rubio said.

Rubio said his principles envision a process whereby illegal immigrants who pass background checks and pay a fine can receive a non-immigrant visa, a status they would have for a long period of time before they could apply for citizenship.

“After that all they get is a chance to apply for a green card and they’d have to do it through the same process as everybody else,” he said.

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