Not All Cubans Are Rubio Fan Club Members

By Miguel Perez

February 19, 2013 6 min read

Please get this straight: For those of us Cuban-Americans who value our brotherhood with our fellow Latin Americans, especially those who didn't have our privilege to come to this country legally, Marco Rubio is an embarrassment.

As the Florida Republican senator becomes the voice for limiting immigration reform, as he puts Machiavellian conditions on a path to legalization, as he clearly puts the interests of his party before those of his own Hispanic community, mind you, not all Cuban-Americans feel proud of him.

And certainly not all of us want him to become our next president!

I'm often amazed by the attitude of some people who, knowing that I was born in Cuba, erroneously assume that I must belong to the Marco Rubio fan club. Just because Rubio's parents also were born in Cuba, they think that this should be enough for me to ignore what he stands for and the interests he represents.

"How about that Marco Rubio?" they ask me. "You must feel very proud. I bet I know who you want for president."

When I hear that, first I have to watch my blood pressure.

And then, as calmly as possible, I try to explain that not all Cubans are molded the same way, that no amount of nationalistic pride is going to make me support a politician with whom I vehemently disagree on practically everything.

Mind you, I would be crying with pride and joy if I saw a young Cuban-American politician go all the way to the White House, but not if I have to overlook what he would do once he gets there.

If I dreaded the though of Mitt Romney in the White House, why would a Romney supporter appeal to me now? Especially when on most issues, tone deaf to the election results, Rubio still sounds like Romney?

Nevertheless, some people think that because we share Cuban roots, I must be Marco's compadre.

"So, let me get this straight," I tell them, "just because Rubio's parents were born in Cuba, you think I should support his tea party ideals and their anti-immigrant agenda? Do I look like a masochist to you?"

When the White House leaked a draft of an immigration bill last week, revealing that the president's plan would allow undocumented immigrants to get a green card within eight years and become citizens five years later, Rubio immediately issued a statement declaring that the president's bill would be "dead on arrival" in Congress.

As a Latino leader, you would think he would be happy that many of his fellow Latinos would to get the right to vote in 13 years, right?

No way, Jose! That's what Republicans fear most!

And theirs are the interests Rubio represents.

He is not a Latino who happens to be Republican; he is a GOP ideologue who happens to be Latino. And there is a huge difference. Latino leaders fight to empower Latino voters, Republican leaders fight to keep minorities from voting.

Instead of President's Obama leaked bill, Rubio wants everyone to agree with the "framework of principles" recently outlined by him and five other senators — which is nothing but a farce!

The plan favored by Rubio, and even some ill-advised Democrats, doesn't even put a date on when our 11 million undocumented immigrants could begin the process of legalization. In fact, since it makes that process contingent on if and when border states certify that the border with Mexico has been secured, it's possible that the legalization part of such a comprehensive reform packaged is never realized, while all additional security components indeed are enforced.

And so when Rubio stamps "DOA" on the president's bill, because, he claims, "It fails to follow through on previously broken promises to secure our borders," you know he is spewing Republican code language for, "This is how we derail a legalization plan for many more years."

When Rubio says that Obama's plan "creates a special pathway that puts those who broke our immigration laws at an advantage over those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally," you know he assuring right wing extremists that he will fight to deny undocumented immigrants the right to vote for much longer than 13 years.

To Republicans, keeping undocumented immigrants from voting in at least three more presidential elections, which is what Obama is proposing, is simply not enough, not when they know that those immigrants are likely to always remember the way they have been treated by GOP demagogues for so many years.

Republicans know that by making legalization contingent on border security certification, whatever measure they pass in Washington would surely be derailed when it gets to border states where Republicans rule. Yes, some Republicans probably are willing to go along with Rubio's kind of immigration reform, but only because they believe the legalization provision would be nullified by the border states.

Of course, this puts Rubio in a terrible predicament. He is trying to convince the conservative Republican base that, on his way to the White House, he can help their party win Latino voters. And yet he can't win Latino voters, including many Cuban Americans, with phony immigration reform that is clearly meant to pander to those who fear Latino political empowerment.

If this is how Republicans expect to win back the Latino voters they have been loosing in recent elections, if they think they can do it with a Latino puppet who keeps following their anti-immigrant playbook, they still have a lot to learn.

To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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