Time is running out.
As divisive, discriminatory and anti-immigrant (inherently anti-American) policies continue to tear at our communities, our schools, and our business community, there comes a point when our leaders must stand up and say enough is enough. Last week's Arizona primary offered an opportunity for Republican vice presidential contender Marco Rubio to assert true leadership as a democratically elected member of the U.S. Senate and denounce policies like SB 1070 for the harm they do to the Latino community - to his Latino community. Senator Rubio failed in his duty. Time is running out for his to correct this mistake.
Time is running out because SB-1070, Arizona's racial profiling law, and other copycat laws across the country continue to make an already challenging life unbearable for many Latinos, documented or not. The deafening silence about SB 1070 and other anti-immigrant laws from so-called leaders like Tea Party favorite Senator Rubio speaks louder than his lofty words of "compassion" ever could.
A winner of the vice presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Senator Rubio draws more and more national attention with each passing week. But what has he done with this platform? Although Senator Rubio has certainly been making the rounds in the press with calls for the Republican Party for show a more humane "tone" on immigration, the Senator says (and does) nothing about the actual policies that are devastating Latino and other immigrants in the U.S.
As the son of immigrants and someone who claims to be concerned about fixing our immigration system, Senator Rubio should have been first in line to point out how Arizona's racist policies have been divisive and destructive for his new home country. His silence betrays perhaps the most poorly-kept secret in the 2012 vice presidential race: Senator Rubio, a second-generation immigration, supports Arizona's anti-immigrant laws like SB 1070.
In fact, if you go down the line on various immigration proposals, you'll consistently find Senator Rubio on the wrong side of the issues, siding with the Tea Party and against immigrants. In addition to supporting SB 1070, a law opposed by the supermajority of Latinos, Senator Rubio supports E-Verify (a bill that harms Latino workers and small business owners), he opposes the DREAM Act (which is supported by 91% of Latinos) and he opposes taking action to provide a path to legalization for the undocumented (which is supported by 81% of Latinos).
Senator Rubio's policy positions are the polar opposite from the positions held by most Latinos, as recently certified, for example, by Politifact on Senator Rubio's opposition to the DREAM Act. With overwhelming numbers like this, it is easy to understand why more and more Latinos are joining Presente Action's campaign and declaring "No Somos Rubios" (We're not Rubios).
Senator Rubio can choose to cloak his anti-immigrant positions in warm, fuzzy language about the virtues of immigrants who want to provide for their families and he can convincingly appear on network news to be concerned about the plight of young people brought to the U.S. as children and who now only want to be productive citizens. He is especially good at using his own immigrant family story to make his immigration points. But, the sad irony and cynical cruelty at the heart of Senator Rubio's approach is that while he is busy using his considerable rhetorical talents to "recognize the humanity" of immigrants, away from the cameras he spends his time and political capital supporting policies that continue to demean, diminish and dehumanize immigrants who came to this country for the same reasons his own parents did. Time is running out for Senator Rubio to match his actions to his rhetoric.
In a Time Magazine interview last week, Senator Rubio once again failed to match his rhetoric with a single concrete proposal or commitment that would fix our broken immigration system or help provide opportunity for young, hard-working immigrant students. Latinos working hard just to make it day to day and those interested in bringing more opportunity for more young bright students are ultimately not interested in the point-scoring between Democrats and Republicans of the sort that Senator Rubio engaged in. We're interested in seeing progress in changing an unfair, broken immigration system. Time is running out for millions of young students across our nation. The first step toward fixing our immigration system rests in securing opportunity for their futures through passage of the DREAM Act. So far, Rubio has maintained his Tea Party line by stubbornly refusing to do anything to support that first step.
Led by DREAMers and other immigrant advocates from across the country, Latinos are speaking out in growing numbers. Presente Action has heard the call and will joined them in declaring March 1 a day of action to call on Senator Rubio to show us where he really stands. As the most popular choice for the vice presidential spot on the Republican ticket this November, Senator Rubio is well-positioned to move his party towards more rational ground on immigration - ground that's been held by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Until now, and unfortunately for Latinos, Senator Rubio has stood by his support for indefensible immigration policies that any serious Latino leader who heard the cries of his community would denounce and repudiate out-of-hand.