(CNN) - Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday praised fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul for embracing immigration reform and standing against calls to deport the millions of undocumented immigrants.
"It's a very good development," Rubio said on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
In a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Paul stated that he's not in favor of expelling the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants and instead argued for a plan that would give work visas to those who came to the country illegally. A Congressional panel would determine how many visas would be given each year.
The plan would bring "these workers out of the shadows and into becoming and being taxpaying members of society," Paul said in his speech. Like Rubio, Paul is considered a potential 2016 contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Kentucky Republican joins a renewed push from the right on immigration reform. His speech comes as a bipartisan group of eight senators, including Rubio, work behind the scenes to draft legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship.
Rubio said Tuesday "there's a growing consensus that something needs to be done about immigration."
"But it needs to be done in a way that's responsible," he said.
Responding to criticism from some conservatives that Rubio and the team of senators are proposing an unfair pathway to citizenship, the senator said he's never favored a special advantage for undocumented immigrants over those attempting to come to the country illegally.
"Actually, what I've never been for is a special pathway to citizenship," he said, placing the emphasis on the word "special."
Rubio described his proposal, implying there would be nothing special about it. He argued it would take quite some time for an undocumented immigrant to eventually gain citizenship.
"I'm saying that all we do is that we allow people to earn, to basically apply for and, if they qualify, receive a legal status. And then at some point in the future, when some time has elapsed and the security measures are in place, then the only thing people would get is the opportunity to apply for a green card. We wouldn't award one, either."
If they receive that green card, then they can apply for citizenship "at some point in the future," Rubio added.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who's also part of the group of senators pushing for immigration reform, agreed that Paul's statements Tuesday were "very positive" and "welcome news."
Speaking to CNN on Capitol Hill, the South Carolina senator said he wasn't clear on Paul's exact position regarding a pathway to citizenship. However, he added that it's unlikely a bill could pass without such a provision.
"There'll never be a bill without a pathway to citizenship signed by the president and in turn there'll never be a pathway to citizenship without a new immigration system in place," he said. "Those are the two tradeoffs right there."
The group of senators stated in January that they would unveil their legislation in March. Asked Tuesday when the announcement was coming, Graham said "sooner than later."
Sen. John McCain added: "You'll know when we've finished."
– CNN's Shannon Travis and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.
That's right boys, say exactly what we need to hear until after the election.
Didn't forget, after the election follow Scott Walkers lead.
Rand Paul wins the straw poll, and he is for a pathway to citizenship – sounds like you guys are pretty confused
The etch-a-sketch crew is at it again. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Both Paul and Rubio think they are the chosen ones , it's like they think its a given they will be the next President .
Expectations can teach you humility .
Rubio like Rand is favored this week because they're trying to break away from that old fart title given back when old Strom Thurman would sit there snoring amongst his ranting collegues.Had pages go around the senate,congress floors making sure nobody died of either old age or boredom during sessions that bad...Now yah got those young tireless wonders like Rubio,Paul and Cruz but the trouble is all their IQs combined don't amount to someone's waste size and republican posters you know hearing them speak that's fact!!
Junior senators, junior thinkers.
This isn't real praise for Bland Paul. Closeted Rubio is simply using this guy's idea and expounding upon it, trying to make it his own. Watch... in a few days or weeks Rubio will start spouting it as if he thought it up to all his hispanic "friends".
This is the future of the republican party. These two swaping spit over a bill that the Dems already wrote and now they are going to repackage it and call it their own. Wow that'll help their image.
I believe all illegal imigrents should be sent back where they came from and then work to gain status to get their legal papers to become a citizen and learn to speak english.It is the language of this country
One clown complimenting another clown.
The illegal day laborers in California are making $100-$150 per day tax free. Does anybody really believe they want a pathway to citizenship? No, they are here for entitlements, tax free wages, and whatever other Government resource they can mooch off of.
Dream Act 3.0
There is no way I am going to vote for either Rubio or Paul Ryan. They are both traitors to the American people. We need people in the Federal Government that will enforce our laws and stop pandering to special interest groups. If either of them are going up for election, I am going to give money to the opponents and write nothing but the truth about how they SOLD out American interests and allowed criminals to stay in the United States.
The GOPTP is looking for a pathway to the WH in 2016, Rubio has no credibility, he is a "bang water FREE CITIZENSHIP wet foot dry foot", he has NO CREDIBILITY to talk about citizenship for other people, he like the rest of Miami Cubans are all ILLEGAL and should NOT have any favoritism over anyone else. President OBAMA has been saying all this stuff for 7 years now and these guys are now saying the same thing to win elections. When immigration reform passes, the DEMOCRATS and not the GOPTP will get the credit. IT IS THE DEMOCRATS WHO PUT THEIR NECK ON THE LINE, HARD RIGHT OVER THE EASY WRONG. THE GOPTP now cares because they want votes, in 2016 the votes goes to the DEMOCRATS!!!!
Neither have a clue. What if republicans had an election, and no one came. No one cares about a republican. No One.
Conservatives can clean their ears and wipe their eyes and do what is necessarily to be done.