SIOUX CENTER, Iowa–Under attack from rivals and stagnating in the polls, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has taken an increasing hard line against illegal immigration. Saturday night was no different, except for the location: the congressional district of one of the biggest crusaders against illegal immigration on Capitol Hill, Rep. Steve King.
Mr. King, a Republican, has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is backed by a super PAC running ads hammering Mr. Rubio for supporting a path to citizenship in his 2013 bill to overhaul immigration laws. A super PAC behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also airing anti-Rubio ads on immigration.
That didn’t appear to hurt Mr. Rubio’s ability to draw a crowd here as more than 500 people turned out to see him speak Saturday night at Dordt College.
Mr. Rubio sought to leave no room for Mr. Cruz to outflank him on the right, and he didn’t address the question of what he would do about the 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the U.S.
“If we do not know who you are, and we do not know why you are coming, for 100% certainty when I am president, you are not getting into the United States of American,” he said to applause. “I don’t support amnesty.”
Mr. Rubio called for 20,000 new border agents, the completion of 700 miles of fence and wall along the border and a database for employers to check the background of potential hires.
That satisfied Rick Langholz, who works at a nearby window factory, though he is still considering Mr. Cruz and businessman Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall along the whole southern border and keep Muslim immigrants out.
By BETH REINHARD for The Wall Street Journal
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