By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
In Florida, Latino Marco Rubio, who is running as a Republican for the United States Senate has now come out against SB 1070, the Arizona racial and ethnic profiling law. Rubio who is being backed by conservatives and many Tea Party elite has allowed politics to play a major role in his decision to deport all undocumented immigrants and have nothing to do with “amnesty.”
Rubio at one point criticized SB 1070 and found the law strictly focused on racial profiling. One would have expected that a person whose parents were Cuban refugees and faced many of the same life experiences that many undocumented immigrants face today would stand against the intent of the Arizona law and the hate it creates.
Rubio who seems not to be able to find his place at the table of immigration reform originally was a fierce critic of SB 1070. Rubio claimed, “From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don't believe Arizona's policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens."
But Rubio who is considered the sweetheart of conservatives seems to now have now changed his opinion about SB 1070. He now claims the changes in the law have made it acceptable. Jason Mattera of Human Events interviewed Rubio after the changes were made.
In that interview Rubio said, “But right now, for the people of Arizona , this is not (from what I gathered) this is not even an immigration issue. This is a public safety issue. And the fact is that Mexican drug violence has tragically crossed over the border and into an American state and American cities. So I congratulate them on taking steps to clarify even further the intent of the law.” So the whole issue is not even an immigration issue.
Rubio pushed the issue even further by rejecting the whole concept of a “pathway to citizenship” or “amnesty.” He claims that despite all of the “human stories” about hardships faced by undocumented immigrants today, these stories mean nothing to the heartless Rubio.
“I understand the human stories that we’re going to...We’re gonna....There are going to be stories of very young kids that were brought to this country at a very young age who don’t even speak Spanish that are going to be sent back to Nicaragua or some other place. And it’s gonna feel weird and I understand that. The goal here is to have an immigration policy that works. And if you provide a path for people to enter this country illegally and if they stay here long enough and pay enough in taxes, well let them stay legally...why would anyone come in through the legal process?”
So who cares about young kids that were brought to this country at a very young age who don’t even speak Spanish that are going to be deported back to Nicaragua or some other place? Rubio doesn’t care about those young kids or the circumstances many of them faced when brought to this country.
Rubio, being Cuban and whose parents fled Castro’s Cuba many years ago seems to have forgotten the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which still applies to any Cuban who basically touches US soil and are then permitted to remain here. No questions asked. No ICE investigations. No detention while status is determined. Just reach out and touch US soil and you are safe. But according to Rubio, that may be too much to provide any other group of people who also have “reached out and touched US soil.”
Legal experts will tell you that no other people from any other country than Cuba have these special rights, privileges, and special advantages.
The United States Coast Guard does deport any Cuban caught trying to enter the United States through the traditional escape route from Cuba, the Florida Straits.
The Houston Times reporting on this issue points out very clearly how Cuban immigrants are treated differently than other groups caught trying to cross the US border. “The agreement also led to the creation of a "wet foot/dry foot" policy. Cubans caught in the water are now taxied back to the island on Coast Guard ships. But, if Cubans can make it to U.S. soil, they can stay and seek legal residency.”
The Houston Times explains why Cubans are making the risky trek via Mexico . "Dry foot" Cubans technically enter the country on a one-year parole. At the end of that time, they are required to appear before an immigration judge to have their status upgraded to permanent residency.
The new phenomenon of Cubans crossing Mexico by land has given rise to a new term: "dusty foot.”
The Houston Times says this “policy has been widely criticized as hypocritical since its inception.”
From Mexico, Cubans make the trip up to the Texas border, where on the same day they cross, they are registered as "political asylees." From day one, no detention, no background investigation, or no ICE intimidation, but are given legal status to remain in the country.
The Houston Press reports that “The number of Cubans entering Texas has skyrocketed. About 11,500 crossed the border legally last year, almost all through Brownsville , which is three times the number that enter through Florida .”
Just maybe Rubio ought to go back and review his family heritage and see where changes in immigration law might be made. Maybe the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 ought to be changed so that it applies equally to all others who have reached out and touched US soil.
Rubio’s position on immigration reform is the real definition of a political hypocrite. A law that applies to “his people” by giving them special privileges to stay in the United States no questions asked, but who is willing for young kids who were brought here at a young age and don’t speak Spanish, to be deported back to a country they don’t even recognize or remember and even after listening to these stories, they do nothing to appeal to this man’s sense of humanity.
It is time that someone called Marco Rubio out as a hypocrite and that as a candidate for the United States Senate, his integrity and character are questionable. Rubio is merely a political hand puppet of the extreme conservatives and patrons of the Tea Party who would rather play politics with the issue of immigration than work for comprehensive reform.
For Rubio to back away from his earlier condemnation of the Arizona law, and now become a strong proponent of deporting young kids back where they came from and to ignore the special privileges afforded Cubans who leave Castro’s Cuba is simply hypocritical.
Marco Rubio is simply a disgrace to not only Cubans who have worked hard to attain their rightful place in our society as former refugees, but to others who seek the same American dream. Rubio ought to stop playing politics with the important issue of comprehensive immigration reform and work to find a resolution that meets the needs of so many people who merely only want a better life.
Even if his conservative supporters and Tea Party cohorts disagree with the fundamental core values of immigration reform, Rubio should remain true to the ideals of providing safe haven to all who seek freedom and security. Rubio might even stop and listen carefully to all the human stories that demand that our government immediately enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Rubio must understand the issue of comprehensive immigration reform is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it is about human stories of people seeking to find a better life free from many of the same issues why Cubans flee Cuba today.
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.