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Bill O'Reilly appears on the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," Photo by: Jeff Christensen/ AP

Bill O’Reilly backs Marco Rubio immigration reform as fair and good

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Bill O'Reilly appears on the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," Photo by: Jeff Christensen/ AP

Bill O'Reilly may want to turn the administration's strengths into weaknesses by embracing issues that the GOP have traditionally opposed.

In a move that raised eyebrows on Wednesday, O’Reilly gave his blessing to Marco Rubio’s immigration plan throwing his support behind the Florida senator on his Fox News show.

'That seems to be pretty fair,' O’Reilly reportedly said of Rubio’s plan. 'I like your program. I think it’s fair.'

According to Politico, O’Reilly then suggested Rubio take his plan to the president in the hope of a public discussion.

'If the president of the United States is not going to cooperate with the opposing party, we need to report that,' O’Reilly said. 'That’s going to be very, very, very important going forward, because we all want fairness and I think your program is a good one.'

The first phase of Rubio’s plan would deport all undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes. It also calls for undocumented immigrants who have committed no crimes to come forward and be fingerprinted for national security, where they will be asked to pay back taxes and are certain to be determined fines.

The second phase comes after the undocumented individual has remained in the US for a significant period of time without committing any crimes - and the border and workplace is secure. Now the legal immigrant would be granted the opportunity to apply for the existing legal immigration system.

It's a staggered path to legal immigration that some critics say is far too provisional on a series of easily altered rules. Rubio says there is no reason to doubt his sincerity, however.

'I wish we didn’t have eight or 12 million people here that are undocumented, but we do and we have to deal with it,' Rubio told O'Reilly on his show. 'But we have to deal with it in a way that’s compassionate and responsible.'

Rubio is a particular Tea Party favorite and is spoken of as a likely 2016 White House contender. Republican party leaders see him as a rising star and hope he could broaden the party’s appeal among Latinos, the nation's fastest growing population.

Meanwhile according to the Washington Post, the Obama administration sees signs that bipartisan cooperation could be possible on immigration reform, in light of Rubio's involvement.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Rubio’s proposals to offer more visas to highly skilled tech workers and his plan to potentially provide legal status to many many of the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants 'bode well for a productive, bipartisan debate.'

'We hope that it signals a change in the Republican approach to this issue,' Carney said, 'because if we are going to get this done, it’s going to take more than just a handful of Republicans working across the aisle.'

Rubio has split from fellow conservatives who refuse to offer any legal status or citizenship to undocumented workers because it would reward people who break the law, they say.

On Tuesday, Carney said the White House is 'encouraged' that Rubio’s thinking now 'so closely reflects the president’s blueprint for reform.'

Hispanic voters strongly supported Obama and other Democrats at the polls last year, which astounded O'Reilly, who suggested at the time the white picket fence world of Wally and the Beave had come to an end.

Now Republicans are moving to win back some of their losses.

'We’re seeing a sort of tango with Rubio and Obama beginning on immigration reform, and they are each not sure yet who is leading and who is following,' Angela Kelley, an analyst at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, told the Washington Post. 'I suspect until they figure that out, there will be some stepping on toes.'

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