"Let's be clear," Rubio said. "Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence."
Later in the interview, Rubio stressed that he would not insist on security measures as a condition for legalizing currently illegal immigrants. "As for the legalization, the enormous majority of my colleagues have accepted that it has to happen and that it has to begin at the same time we begin the measures for [the border]," Rubio said. "It is not conditional. The legalization is not conditional."
Rubio gave the Secretary of Homeland Security broad authority to issue waivers to criminal immigrants. "The secretary may waive [the misdemeanor and other requirements] on behalf of an alien for humanitarian purposes, to ensure family unity, or if such a waiver is otherwise in the public interest," the bill said. That could mean almost anything
During the selling of the Gang of Eight, Rubio pushed back against skeptics who suggested the executive branch — whether the Obama administration or any other administration — would actually enact tough border security. Rubio's trump card was the bill's provision for something called the Southern Border Security Commission. Made up of border state governors plus representatives appointed by the president, the House and the Senate, the commission, according to Rubio, would take charge of border security if an administration failed to do so.
Rubio promised conservatives that the commission would have actual authority to enact security. The bill "requires if the Department of Homeland Security does not achieve 100 percent operational awareness and 90 percent apprehensions on the border, they lose control of the issue, to a commission, not a Washington commission, to a local commission, made up of the governors of the four border states ... where they will then finish the job of securing the border, including the fencing plan," Rubio told radio host Mark Levin in April 2013. Rubio told many other people the same thing.
It wasn't true. When the bill came out, it said the commission's "primary responsibility ... shall be making recommendations" to the president and Congress on "policies to achieve and maintain the border security goal." The bill said the commission would have six months to write a report with security recommendations; after giving its advice, it would be disbanded within 30 days.
The commission was, in other words, just another Washington commission. It had no actual power to do anything, regardless of what Rubio said.