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Why Marco Rubio Is Wrong for Arizona

May 6, 2015
In The News

Marco Rubio has built his political career on the narrative of an up-from-nothing immigrant kid who achieves the American Dream.

Rubio's personal story is indeed powerful, and one I know well. Like Rubio, my parents came to the United States from another country with little more than hope for a better future for their kids.

Personal stories can inspire action, but ultimately each of us serving in public office should be judged more by what we actually do than the story we can tell.

Rubio has been successful at selling his story. The same isn't true when it comes to advocating for those who want to follow his path.

Since he ran for the U.S. Senate, Rubio has sought to portray himself as somehow both a Republican committed to real reform on immigration, and a darling of Tea Party extremists.

It has been an inherent contradiction from the start - and, by now, it's clear that his "support" for immigration reform was less carefully considered than one of his publicly released Spotify playlists.

Rubio is visiting Arizona today, a state I'm proud to represent and one that continues to suffer each day from Congress's failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Five years ago, I was protesting Arizona's divisive, hurtful and ultimately dismantled immigration law, SB1070. Rubio, meanwhile, was talking out of both sides of his mouth.

In front of a largely Latino audience in Miami on April 27, 2010, Rubio warned that Americans would be uncomfortable with a "police state" in Arizona. Less than two weeks later, Rubio told an ultra-conservative website that he would have voted for the final version of the law, even though there were still concerns over forcing immigrants to show papers.

The fight over SB1070 wasn't just about a single state's immigration law; it was a defining moment for the immigration reform movement. Rubio not only failed to eventually choose the right side, he tried to have it both ways.

Since then, Rubio has continued his slide from the political leader he purports to be to the Tea Party puppet all evidence indicates he is.

Last year, Rubio ran away from his own immigration reform plan after the Tea Party pressured him to abandon it. And now that he's running for president, Rubio has swung even farther to the extreme, proposing a plan that leads with the increased militarization of our border.

In Spanish, Rubio says we need to do piecemeal reform, in English it's border security first or nothing. We all know how that story ends: No relief for immigrant families.

I certainly understand the complexities and political pressures at play when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. But if Rubio is so quick to abandon a policy he once showed so much passion for -- at least publicly -- why should we trust anything he says?

What makes achieving the American Dream different from the idea of success in other countries is that when you become successful, you're supposed to find a way to aid others. To Rubio, it seems the American Dream is just a story he likes to tell.