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Rubio Says Citizenship 10 Years Out Under Immigration Plan

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said the government must create an electronic system to verify if foreigners have overstayed their visas. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It will take at least 10 years for undocumented workers currently in the U.S. to be able to apply for citizenship under an immigration plan drafted by a bipartisan group of senators, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said.

Rubio, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” today, said that under the plan such foreigners can apply for temporary work permits within months of a plan to secure the borders. There are an estimated 11 million foreigners in the country illegally.

A series of “triggers” must be met before such foreigners can begin applying for their green cards under the plan, including tougher border security and the creation of a nationwide worker verification system. The government also must create an electronic system to verify if foreigners have overstayed their visas, Rubio said.

“For those who are undocumented in this country, not only will they have to wait 10 years -- more than 10 years -- but they will have to wait until all three of those things are fully implemented,” Rubio said. “If they’re not fully implemented, there will be no green cards awarded and we think that will be an incentive.”

White House

The White House disagrees with senators on the need for triggers, Rubio said. The difference must be resolved before immigration reform legislation can be signed into law.

Illegal immigrants will have to pass background checks and pay fines in order to receive a temporary work permit, then wait in the provisional status for at least 10 years before they could apply for green cards, Rubio said.

Appearing on the “Fox News Sunday” program, Rubio disputed arguments that the plan would give amnesty to foreigners in the country illegally.

“It will be cheaper, faster and easier for people to go back home and wait 10 years than it will be to go through this process that I’ve outlined,” Rubio said “That’s why it’s not amnesty.”

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