Now, key Republicans are circling back to this argument: Legalizing undocumented immigrants will make them pay more taxes, earn higher wages and bring an underground demographic of workers into the official American economy. And, Republicans hope, new voters who might sympathize with the GOP agenda on social and economic issues. …

“Our goal is not to make rich people poorer,” Rubio said in an interview with POLITICO. “It is to make poor people richer, make all Americans more prosperous. And I think immigration is a part of that. … In order for this economy to grow dynamically, this country is going to need a 21st century legal immigration system.”

“I think Democrats realized that our economy needs immigration reform,” added Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another key proponent of immigration reform. “You can’t get the workers you need; illegal immigration hurts us economically, politically and socially.”

In recasting the debate to be about economics, these Republicans are sending a clear signal that they’re siding with the business arm of the GOP rather than the immigration hawks who appeal more to raw emotion when it comes to undocumented immigrants. It remains to be seen if the Rubio wing of the GOP can blow past the Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wing of the party on immigration — not to mention the criticism Republicans will hear from conservative talk radio.