Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said on Wednesday that if he was elected president he would halt President Barack Obama's program that grants protections to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Speaking after an event at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H., Rubio said that he would discontinue Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) even if Congress failed to pass immigration reform beforehand.
"It will have to end at some point," Rubio said, according to Bloomberg.
The Florida senator added that the "ideal" situation would be for Congress to enact reform, "but if it doesn't, it will end. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States."
The DACA initiative, introduced in 2012, allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. In November of 2014, Obama announced that the initiative would expand to include undocumented immigrants who entered the country before 2010, eliminate the requirement that applicants be younger than 31 years old, and lengthen the renewable deferral period to three years.
While the initiative was met with widespread resistance from the Republican party, Rubio has previously stated that the only way that he would end DACA would be if Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform.
But that appears to have changed after speaker-elect Paul Ryan vowed to halt any efforts to pass immigration reform while Obama was still in the White House.
"The president has proven himself untrustworthy on this issue, because he tried to unilaterally rewrite the law itself," Ryan said, according to The Hill." "Presidents don't write laws — Congress does."
Rubio's stricter stance toward DACA comes as the candidate continues to try to shed his past as a member of the Gang of Eight bipartisan Senate alliance that sponsored a sweeping immigration reform bill in 2013 that passed the upper chamber, but stalled in the House of Representatives.
"I would just say on immigration it is a very legitimate issue. We are not going to be able to pass a comprehensive approach to the immigration problem. The votes don't exist. We tried that two years ago," Rubio said, according to Politico.
He added that "the only way to move forward on immigration begins by enforcing our immigration laws. Part of that is a wall on key sectors of the border. But we also need e-verify, we also need an entry-exit tracking system and until you do that you're not going to be able to do anything else on immigration."
Rubio also slammed rival Donald Trump for what he says is flip-flopping on his stance on immigration just to run for president.
"Donald was a supporter of amnesty and the DREAM Act, he changed his position on those issues just to run for president," Rubio said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom."