In My Opinion

Fabiola Santiago: Sen. Marco Rubio’s letter to President Barack Obama is shameful

 

fsantiago@MiamiHerald.com

Dear Sen. Rubio,

At the height of your “Republican Savior” fame, there seemed to be no social event I could attend in North and Central Florida at which someone didn’t ask me, “How about that Marco Rubio? Isn’t he great?”

The premise being that you and I are Cuban-Americans from Miami — we, the perfect American Dream story, spoils of the Cold War with legal status — and so it must follow that I automatically admire you, our crown prince.

I was too kind then, diplomatically understating the lack of compassion (yours) and extreme conservatism (yours) that divide us on just about every issue, particularly women’s rights. But I didn’t altogether renounce you. I’m too aware of the gratuitous anti-Cuban sentiment out there, repressed and otherwise; it runs amok at the slightest indication that it’s OK to feel and express it (remember Elián?) and I didn’t want to be the one to feed the ugly monster.

But today, this Cuban-American from Miami — a city held up as an example of what the hard work of immigrants can build — is ashamed of you.

Your letter to President Barack Obama, asking him to stop an anticipated executive order that would bring some needed relief to suffering parents and DREAMer kids, marked a new low. These young people, who’ve earned their nickname through their accomplishments and aspirations to love this country as much as you and your tea party followers, deserve better from Florida’s senator.

Only your Canadian-born buddy Ted Cruz of Texas can still out-perform you in the political game to short-change the disadvantaged and white-wash your identity to please a radical, heartless and loud segment of this still generous country.

The threat that, if the president provides minimal and temporary relief Congress will never pass immigration reform, is a fake ploy. We’re only talking about work permits and deferred deportation of youths who only know life in this country — not permanently legalizing their status.

If the president feels compelled to help, it’s to make up for the failings of this do-nothing-but-politic Congress, the worst in American history (and that’s saying a lot, given that the one before was considered by expert observers as the worst in history).

Only someone who thinks that the most conservative of Republicans will control and torpedo Congress forever can deny others a little peace, when his own family and fellow Cubans, meritorious or not, continue to reap great benefits from blanket legal immigration status.

Senator, you underestimate your constituents — and all that separates us.

No, we’re not returning to the days of coat hangers and replaying Roe v. Wade to please a new generation of troglodytes. Yes, marriage equality is the new civil-rights fight and, like other developed countries have done, this one, too, will embrace gay marriage, y no pasa nada. And yes, subsidized medical care should be available to everyone who needs it.

Knowing that I’m proud of where I come from, a friend asked me: If Marco Rubio were on the presidential ballot, the first Cuban-American, wouldn’t you be tempted to vote for him? How could you pass that up?

Today, I can answer that last question without hesitation: “Easily.”

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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