Rubio announces immigration reform plan

Published: Jan 16 2013 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 17 2013 06:15:23 AM EST

While gun control has taken center stage in Washington, others are putting their focus on issues that may take the spotlight come 2016.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Republican Senator Marco Rubio laid out his ideas for possible immigration reform.

Some of his proposals include moving towards a more skill-based and high tech immigration system rather than labor-based.

“I'm a big believer in family-based immigration... but I don't think that in the 21st century we can continue to have an immigration system where only 6.5% of people who come here, come here based on labor and skill.  We have to move toward merit and skill-based immigration,” said Rubio.

Rubio also suggested increasing the number of visas for permanent or seasonal farm workers, as well as expediting the process towards naturalization for children who came here unlawfully with their parents.

As for the 12 million illegals who are already in the country, Rubio suggested they come out into the open and go through a series of steps in order to gain legal status.

Rubio suggested they undergo a background check, get fingerprinted, pay a fine, or any back taxes they may owe “maybe even do community service,” said Rubio.

They would have to prove they've been in the country for an extended period of time and understand some English and are assimilated.

“Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country,” said Rubio. Anyone who committed a serious crime would be deported.

In a post on his Facebook page, former vice presidential Republican candidate Paul Ryan praised Rubio's ideas.

“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,” Ryan posted.

Rubio also supports strengthening border enforcement as well as workplace enforcement.