Published: Jan 27, 2012 5:59 PM EST

DORAL, Fla. (AP) - Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he hopes Republicans will take the lead in trying to resolve the legal status of illegal immigrants who go to college or join the military.
    
On Friday, the freshman senator criticized those on the right who use harsh language regarding illegal immigrants. He says he's been too slow at times to condemn that language. Rubio also chastised the left for using unrealistic solutions to gain favor with Latinos.
    
The son of Cuban immigrants has shied away from taking a lead on immigration. That appeared to change Friday.
    
Meanwhile, immigrant activists protesting Rubio's past opposition to comprehensive immigration reform were escorted out despite the senator's pleas to let them to stay.
    
About 60 to 70 people gathered for the "protest" outside the event.

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