Young immigrants and allies with UWD, Florida Rising, Immigrant Action Alliance, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition took action after legislation putting undocumented youth, as well as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, passed the U.S. House earlier this month. The Dream and Promise Act was approved with support from nine Republicans, including three from Florida. In their action, young immigrants and allies called on Rubio to join them.
“Just like their South Florida counterparts in the House, Republicans in the Senate can and should prioritize passing a pathway to citizenship,” Kennedy continued. “We’re calling on Sen. Rubio to do what is right and what is popular with the majority of the American people: Pass a pathway to citizenship for millions in our communities by voting ‘YES’ on the Dream,” as well as legislation protecting temporary status immigrants and farmworkers.
“Immigrant young people like me have been living in a constant state of fear and anxiety over the insecurity of our futures,” United We Dream Florida member Idalia Quinteros said in the statement. “Without any form of protection from deportation, my life and the place I love and call home, could change overnight. No one deserves to live in perpetual fear for their safety and that of their families.”
She went on to say that if Rubio “refuses to follow through to protect immigrant youth like me, then Democrats must use their power and pass protections without him,” she continued.
Once upon a time and looking from the outside in, Marco Rubio might have been considered an immigration champion, back in 2013 coauthoring a comprehensive immigration reform bill that ended up passing the U.S. Senate back by a truly impressive 68 to 32 margin. The effort even got him declared, “The Republican Savior” by Time. But the key word here are, might have been considered an immigration champion.
While Rubio did end up voting for his bill, he had been teetering to the point that a group of concerned immigrant moms confronted him in May 2013 about his commitment to the legislation. He assured them he was onboard. But the moms had been right. Rubio eventually disowned his own legislation. By his 2016 presidential run, he supported ending the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Activists responded to his candidacy with cries of, “Rubio’s dream is our nightmare!” By 2016, he had voted for a white supremacist president.
“Every day, immigrant youth and our families remain at risk of detention and deportation,” Kennedy continued in the statement. “With COVID-19 continuing to devastate Florida communities, undocumented immigrants remain among the most vulnerable with little to no protections and unequal access to vaccines. While we hope Sen. Rubio acts with the urgency this moment requires, we also are not naive to his cowardice on this issue, and are also calling on Senate Democrats to move forward without him and his Republican allies if they refuse to act.”
While Sen. Dick Durbin said this month he thinks he’s close to getting enough Republican support for his DREAM Act to overcome a filibuster, it’s unclear if Rubio is among the senators he’s speaking to. With or without Rubio’s backing, undocumented young people and their allies will not stop fighting until they win permanent relief. “@marcorubio ’s neighbors just saw us after our action at his house demanding he support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people and told us to ‘keep going’ and that we did a ‘great job,’” Kennedy said in a tweet.