Friday, 01 Aug 2014 10:02 PM
By Cathy Burke

Sen. Marco Rubio said Friday there's a way to "put to rest the illegal immigration problem in America" – but the first step has to be to secure the nation's borders.

In an interview on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor," the Florida Republican told host Bill O'Reilly the current crisis of 57,000 unaccompanied children flooding into the United States illegally is the result of President Barack Obama's 2012 "Deferred Action Plan for Childhood Arrivals" program that has come under GOP fire.

"First of all, I never would have signed a deferred action," he told O'Reilly. "It sent a message to invite people to come."

Rubio urged a two-step approach to dealing with the crisis, with immediate action to "secure" the border with fences, ground sensors, and "an entry tracking system at our airports."

"You have to do every aspect" to ensure illegal entry is stopped both at the border, and that those in the country aren't allowed to overstay their visas, he said, adding he also favors a National Guard presence at the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal crossings.

A "second step" is legal reform "to put to rest the illegal immigration problem."

Questioned about recent polling of Americans' views on Congress, including an Associated Press-GfK survey that found two-thirds of Americans say illegal immigration is a serious problem, Rubio called the dissatisfaction "an indictment of all of Washington."

"Unless you favor the status quo, you have to be in favor of fixing it," he said. "The first step is to stop growth, and then the problem we have with illegal immigration."

Rubio's comments echoed those he made Thursday night after Senate Republicans blocked legislation giving Obama $2.7 billion to deal with the illegal immigration crisis.

"[My] experience over the last year and a half has convinced me that the only way we will ever have the votes necessary to address every aspect of our immigration problems, including modernizing legal immigration and addressing the status of those currently here without legal status, is to first address border security and the enforcement of our laws," he said in a statement.