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Marcus Bright

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Marco Rubio, Clarence Thomas, and Immigration

Posted: 06/20/2012 2:42 pm

Junior United States Senator Marco Rubio is now suggesting that he will likely not introduce legislation that supposedly would take a significant step towards establishing a more substantial pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers after President Obama's announcement regarding deportation last Friday. Why should Obama's declaration matter if Rubio's genuine objective is to improve the lives of many undocumented immigrants through more comprehensive immigration reforms? If we take the past as being prologue then we have valid reason to question if Rubio's recent claims on immigration are anything more than empty rhetoric.

Rubio and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas share some strikingly similar characteristics. Both men became one of the very few members of their respective minority groups to climb the latter of success to the upper echelons of the United States government. After climbing that ladder, both have zealously sought to weaken or torch the very ladder of opportunity that they themselves climbed. Thomas, the only African-American on the Supreme Court, has been an ardent opponent of affirmative action (despite having been a beneficiary of the program) and holds opinions and views that are in opposition to the vast majority of African-Americans.

Rubio, the charismatic Senator from Miami, similarly holds views and advocates for a number of policies that are not reflective of the majority of the Hispanic population. Many of these policies have a disproportionate effect on the lives of Hispanic-Americans. The most recent example of this is his support of Florida Governor Rick Scott's voter purge which is aimed at striking those suspected of being non-citizens from the voter rolls. The majority of these individuals happen to be of Hispanic origin.

Rubio opposed the DREAM Act of 2010 which would have created a pathway to citizenship for high achieving students who were registered with the Selective Service. Rubio also supported the controversial Arizona Immigration Law, SB1070, that gave law enforcement personnel the green light to profile and stop anyone that they had "reasonable suspicion" of being in the state illegally. It is ironic that Rubio, who descends directly from immigrants, is amongst those leading the charge to block the door of opportunity that he himself walked through.

Of course neither the Black nor the Hispanic demographic is a monolith and everyone is certainly entitled to be an independent thinker with his or her own views. However, Rubio, who is on the short list of potential Republican vice-presidential candidates, should not be presented as someone whose views are in alignment with the majority of Hispanics on issues such as immigration and health care in the same manner that the ideology of Clarence Thomas does not resemble the majority of African-Americans on several key issues. While the individual journeys of both Thomas and Rubio are to be applauded they must be held accountable for the consequences of their support or lack of support for policies that affect some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.

 

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