Florida Sen. Marco Rubio seemed to say Sunday he favors allowing illegal immigrants who haven't committed felonies to avoid deportation.
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press,
" Rubio was asked whether he would still like to find a way for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country to stay in the country.
"If you're a criminal alien, no, you can't stay. If you're someone that hasn't been here for a very long time you can't stay," Rubio said.
Asked by moderator Chuck Todd to define "criminal alien," Rubio responded, "A felon."
"Someone who's committed a crime, a non-immigration related – obviously – and that's what I've talked about in the past," he said. "So I don't think you'll round up and deport 12 million people."
Rubio has been under fire from some of his opponents for the GOP presidential nomination – especially Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – for changing positions on immigration. He was part of the bipartisan 2013 Gang of Eight immigration bill that conservatives opposed.
Rubio admitted he has changed positions of immigration, but said that unlike Cruz, he doesn't deny he's never done so.
"If circumstances change or you learn something along the way, it's reasonable to say, 'Maybe a different approach will work better,'" Rubio said. "So, for example, on immigration it is clear no comprehensive solution to immigration is going to pass."
Rubio said it is now clear that nothing can be done about those here illegally until it can be proved that illegal immigration is under control and America is safe.
"And ISIS [the Islamic State] poses a very unique threat, unlike anything we have faced in the past," Rubio said.
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