Some Republicans still lament that result as a missed opportunity for the party that could have set the GOP on a different path to reach more Latino voters.
Rubio is a relative newcomer to Senate negotiations on the issue, but he's seen as a rising star in his party and a potential 2016 presidential candidate. As a charismatic young Hispanic leader his proposals on immigration have attracted wide notice in recent weeks. And as a conservative favorite, unlike McCain or Graham, his stamp of approval could be critical to drawing in other conservative lawmakers.
A Republican aide said that Rubio has made clear in his interactions with the Senate group that he couldn't sign on to proposals that deviated from the principles he himself has been laying out in recent media interviews, including border security first, a guest-worker program, more visas for high-tech workers and enforcement in the workplace.
As for the illegal immigrants already in the country, Rubio would have them pay a fine and back taxes, show they have not committed crimes, prove they've been in the country for some time and speak some English and apply for permanent residency. Ultimately citizenship too could be in reach but only after a process that doesn't nudge aside immigrants already in line, and Rubio hasn't provided details on how long it all might take.
Associated Press writer Luis Alonso Lugo contributed to this report.
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