Recently the Venezuelan community in Florida sent a clear message to Marco Rubio urging him to support a path to permanent legal status for those with temporary protections. Rubio refused.
Now in a scathing op-ed, Samuel Vilchez Santiago, a Venezuelan asylee and community leader, calls out Rubio’s long record of political cowardice and ineffectiveness on immigration issues. Detailing how Rubio has unconscionably ignored the needs of Venezuelans, Santiago concludes, “if Rubio won’t support our community, we’ll replace him with someone who will.”
Under the socialist Maduro regime, Venezuela has experienced extreme poverty, social unrest, brutal repression and violent crime that has caused almost a fifth of the population to flee. Over 500,000 Venezuelan exiles now live in the U.S., many in Florida, and their fate depends on the federal government.
That’s where President Joe Biden has stepped in, doing what Donald Trump refused to do by granting Temporary Protected Status to those who have fled Maduro’s brutal dictatorship. TPS is a victory for the Venezuelan community. It allows Venezuelan exiles to work and it protects them from deportation.
It’s up to Congress to act to grant Venezuelan exiles a path to permanent residency in America. Democrats in the House have passed a solution while Republicans — including our own senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio — have done little to support our efforts to keep our families safe in America, despite their repeated campaign promises to support a path to permanence. Rubio even said outright that he wants Venezuelans to “return to Venezuela.”
In fact, Rubio has said plainly that he no longer supports permanent status for Venezuelans. Not only is this a callous abandonment of immigrants in need, it’s hypocritical.
Worse yet, Rubio has stated that a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders and DACA recipients “would be perhaps one of the worst things” that could happen this year.
Sadly, Rubio has a long history of being too weak to stand up for immigrant communities when they need him most. He claimed to be in favor of a path to citizenship, then strongly opposed it. He told us he supported a bipartisan immigration reform plan, then came out against it.
When Rubio’s party doubles down on anti-immigrant policies, Rubio is always too weak to stand up against them. His recent abandonment of Venezuelans is shameful, but not surprising.
Since Rubio has made his position clear ahead of his reelection campaign, it’s time to make good on our promise. If Rubio won’t support our community, we’ll replace him with someone who will.