This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 16, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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O'REILLY: Continuing now with Senator Marco Rubio from Florida who's put forth his immigration vision. So what's the headline of that?
RUBIO: Well the headline of it is we need legal immigration. It's good for our country but we also have a right to have immigration laws and as a sovereign country to enforce those laws.
We have a problem. Number one our legal immigration system is antiquated. It needs to be modernized for farm workers. For you know -- we can't just have 6.5 percent of the people that immigrate here be unskilled on talent -- we need to up that number. That doesn't mean under my family-based immigration but we have to have more skill based immigration.
The second thing we have to do is real enforcement and that includes improving the infrastructure at the border and getting operational control of the border. That includes work place enforcement, whether that's e- verify or something else that works. And that means by the way tracking people when they come in the country and when they leave as visitors because 40 percent of our illegal immigration are visa overstayers.
O'REILLY: Yes they just -- well all of that with the technology we have should be doable.
O'REILLY: But the real -- the real elephant in the room --
O'REILLY: All right? Are the 12 million illegal aliens are already here. What do you do?
RUBIO: That's right -- well and look and I don't -- and I don't like that either. I wish we didn't have eight million or 12 million people here that are undocumented but we do and we have to deal with it. But we have to deal with it in a way that's compassionate but also responsible.
O'REILLY: But specifically --
RUBIO: Well here is how I would deal with it.
RUBIO: First of all if you committed a serious crime you're going to be deported.
O'REILLY: You're done, right.
RUBIO: And no one would disagree with that.
RUBIO: If you haven't you have to come forward you have to be fingerprinted and background checked for national security and crimes. You have to pay back taxes, you have to pay fines. You have to have been here for a significant period of time, know English and be assimilated. And if you do all of those things what you get is a work permit basically a legal status, not a green card to allow you to be in this country legally and to work.
O'REILLY: You get a driver's license, insurance.
RUBIO: Yes you will be legally here. Basically a non-permanent visa.
O'REILLY: Ok will you be on Social Security?
RUBIO: No you will not and under that status no one qualifies for any -- any federal benefits.
O'REILLY: All right so all you get is the right to work. The right to have a driver's license, the right to stay here.
RUBIO: Right that's the first part of it.
RUBIO: And you have to be in that category for a significant period of time. When a significant period of time has elapsed, you haven't violated any of those conditions and in fact the border has been secured and the work place enforcement mechanism is in place all of that happens that would trigger a second phase.
And that second phase is this. All you would get at that point is the opportunity to apply for the existing legal immigration system.
O'REILLY: But you could still be here to do it?
RUBIO: While you're waiting. But you would have -- no but you have to get in line behind everyone that applied before you. You have to qualify for the visa when your term gets up. All you get is access to the existing system.
O'REILLY: What I'm seeing here is maybe a seven to 10 year period where an illegal alien current here does get an opportunity to make a living. Can stay and then can apply for citizenship but the process is going to take --
RUBIO: Well actually you don't apply. They apply for a green card. And then after you get your green card you have to wait another five years --