Rafael and Marco Antonio Sold Out On Immigration Reform
March 4, 2016
America has been the dreamland for millions of immigrants from around world for over 200 years. The dream that has come true for so many can be illustrated in the stories of two fortunate immigrant families that fought hard to provide better lives for their children in America.
One family came to the United States from Cuba in 1956 when Dictator Fulgencio Batista’s regime stifled the economy through corruption and misappropriation of national industries which caused economic hardship for middle class families.
The family sought a better life in the US. The parents and their six-year old son settled in the heart of Miami, among Florida’s expat Cuban community. The father worked as a bartender and the mother as a hotel maid and stocker at a KMart store. They soon had another son, Marco Antonio, and later a daughter, both native born Americans.
Their son, Mario Antonio, went on to graduate from the University of Florida and later earned a law degree from the University of Miami. He became a lawyer and later a professor at a local college.
The other family has an even more interesting story. The father, Rafael, fled Cuba in 1957 after having been active as a teenager in the revolution to topple Batista. At age 18, his family bribed a Cuban official to let him leave the country. He fled with $100 sown into his underwear. He settled in Austin, Texas, and studied at the University of Texas, living on a student visa.
After graduating, he got a good job in the oil industry and married an American woman named Eleanor Wilson. Rafael was granted political asylum when his 4-year student visa expired.
They soon moved to Alberta, Canada, to launch a business supporting the oil industry. It was there that their son, Rafael Edward, was born. Rafael Sr. applied for and became a Canadian citizen.
A few years later, the family relocated back to Texas where young Rafael excelled in school and eventually was accepted at the prestigious Princeton University. After graduating, he went on to earn a law degree from another elite university, Harvard, and became the first Latino to ever clerk for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He later enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer.
How can the stories of these sons of immigrant families get even better? Well, both young men went on to win elected offices and, eventually, both were elected to the most prestigious club in America: the United States Senate.
Today, both of those ambitious young men in their mid-forties are vying to be the next leader of the free world as they compete for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
By now, you may have guessed that these are the stories of Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz and Marco Antonio Rubio.
Both their families immigrated to the US like so many of our families did. They sought better lives for themselves and their children. They believe that through hard work, they too could achieve the American dream. They had read the words of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.”
The beacon of freedom doesn’t call out for the rich, well-to-do, and affluent masses. It doesn’t ask what country they are from or their religion or the color of their skin. America has beckoned those hungry enough to want to be here to come seek a better life.
The Cruz and Rubio families came here under a system that encouraged immigration in a country that welcomed them and understood that we are all immigrants from somewhere else. That has been the promise of this promised land.
But lately, the politics of hate and division have taken over. The candidates for the Republican Party’s nomination have fought each other to see who is more anti-immigration, anti-immigrant, and, frankly, more anti-social. And leading that fight against immigration reform have been these two blessed and privileged sons of immigrants.
Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio oppose meaningful immigration reform. They both argue about which one is more against a path to legal citizenship for millions that have fought to get here and have stayed to raise their families, just like the Rubio and Cruz families.
It’s one thing to fundamentally disagree with a government policy and oppose it, but it’s completely hypocritical to benefit from it then oppose it for political gain.
It’s time for both these first-generation American sons of immigrants to honor the promise of America and take a strong position for a comprehensive immigration reform package that is both humane and just.
They owe it to this country that has given them so much.