WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) writes in his new autobiography that he can see why parents come to the United States without authorization to help their children -- and he could even picture himself doing the same thing if put in their place.
"Many people who came here illegally are doing exactly what we would do if we lived in a country where we couldn't feed our families," he writes in An American Son, which was released Tuesday. "If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn't give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn't a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here."
Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and has been among the more vocal members of the Republican Party about the need to soften rhetoric on immigration. He planned to introduce a bill that would help young undocumented immigrants gain legal status -- although he said Monday that the legislation is unlikely to come up -- but also opposes comprehensive reform that would grant legal status to many.
He does not specifically reference his plan for undocumented young people in the book, but he does speak about the need for legislation that is more narrow than the Dream Act, a decade-old bill upon which his plan would have been based.
"I'm sure we would find a way to keep them here if they could dunk a basketball," he writes of young undocumented immigrants. "Why would we deport them if they're valedictorian of their high school class?"
Still, he writes that the Democratic-supported Dream Act is too broad, as are many other promises from the left on immigration. Although he says he feels compassion to those who came to the country without authorization, he writes that it would send the wrong message to aspiring immigrants who hoped to come legally.
But the "anti-illegal immigration side" also gets things wrong, Rubio writes, including those within the Republican Party.
He said he understands "the frustration people have when they feel their country is being overwhelmed by illegal immigration," but that nativist statements about immigrants destroying the country make him angry.
"I begin to wonder if some of the people who speak so disparagingly about immigrants would be just as worked up if most of them were coming from Canada," he writes.