Florida Senator Marco Rubio held a meeting with DREAM Act student, Daniela Pelaez, The North Miami Senior High School valedictorian whose deportation case is the most recent to help people understand the realities facing DREAM Act students across the United States.
Presente Action and Latinos throughout the country are pleased that Daniela got a stay of deportation for two years. We also take great interest in Rubio's decision to meet with her, especially when we consider that Marco Rubio does not support the DREAM Act, legislation that would prevent the deportation not just of Daniela, but of the more than 2.1 million DREAM Act students facing the same precarious situation she does. This raises the question, 'Why doesn't Marco Rubio support the 2.1 million Danielas?'
On different occasions, several DREAM Act students and I have delivered our sincere request for Mr. Rubio to turn away from his Tea Party opposition to the DREAM Act and other pro-immigrant legislation, and towards supporting the DREAM and other legislation backed by the majority of Latinos in the United States. Rubio's response? Rubio said we were being manipulated by "a group of organizations that hide behind these poor young people and they use them to raise money for their organization, to be relevant and to attack me personally." Really?
For Mr. Rubio to think that we as students cannot and do not think for ourselves, for him to believe that students cannot form opinions on the issues that matter most to us is disrespectful and dehumanizing. In my case, three other DREAMers and I literally walked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington in order to demand--not ask -- that President Obama stop deporting DREAMers like Daniela. You, Mr. Rubio, have no right to talk about me or any of the more than 2.1 million DREAM act students who want your support.
Trying to cover over your anti-immigrant opposition to the DREAM Act, your support for Arizona's racist SB-1070 and other anti-Latino legislation by meeting with one DREAM Act student is cynical and manipulative. As many of our parents say, "You can't cover over the sun with one finger," Mr. Rubio. The majority of Latinos in the United States support the DREAM Act and you don't. I would be ashamed of myself if I was a child of immigrants who both supported anti-immigrant legislation and opposed the DREAM Act and other pro-Latino legislation. Ashamed.
The fact you cannot hide is that students like Daniela Pelaez and her sister would not have to deal with the threat of deportation if you would have done what the majority of Latinos want you to do: support the DREAM Act. Instead of ignoring the 2.1 million students who, like Daniela, would benefit from the DREAM Act, you should consider viewing us as mature human beings capable of knowing and acting for what's best for us. Instead of making flowery speeches about immigrants you should advocate for concrete legislation that awaits your support.
Failure to do this will mean that your flowery speeches, your public statements about immigrants, your meetings with DREAMers like Daniela are nothing but a cynical game: sounding and looking pro-immigrant while continuing to support anti-immigrant policies.
So, yes, Mr. Rubio, I and other DREAMers can and do speak and act for ourselves, and we are speaking our truth: you will not be able to continue to deny the DREAM Act while at the same time trying to look and sound pro-immigrant. DREAMers will not allow that because we want you to support the 2.1 million other Daniela's in our country.
Presente Action and its allies have consistently supported and continue to support the
DREAM Act. We've seen hypocritical politicians, but Marco Rubio, the anti-immigrant son of immigrants takes the cake. Taking pictures with and making statements in support of Daniela while both opposing the DREAM Act and supporting SB-1070 -- the most anti-Latino, anti-immigrant legislation in the country -- is the height of hypocrisy and cynicism. This is why growing numbers of Latinos are joining Presente Action's NO SOMOS RUBIOS campaign.
Follow Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/f_matos007