Rubio has since distanced himself from the immigration reform effort he once championed. But back in 2003 and 2004, he was even more generous to undocumented immigrants. Rubio and Rivera co-sponsored legislation that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition in community colleges and state universities.
Those who resided in the state and attended a Florida high school for three years prior to graduation would be able to pay in-state tuition, the legislation proposed, if the student pledged to file an application to be a U.S. permanent resident as soon as he or she is able to do so.
The legislation would not be adopted in 2003 or 2004, but was part of a years-long effort that continued well beyond Rubio’s time in the state legislature. Ultimately, in 2014, Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed into law an initiative that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition, something that is now in effect in 18 states.
Even at the time, it was an issue that split Republicans: “Rubio supported the in-state tuition proposal for immigrant students but said his leadership remained fearful that the legislation would be a boon for illegal immigrants,” The Miami Herald reported in 2003.