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Here’s the thing about Marco Rubio: he’s the son of Cuban immigrants, represents the state with the fourth-largest immigrant population in America, constantly bills himself and his background as the embodiment of the American Dream…and yet he seems to have much less sympathy for immigrants who have stories much like his.
He’s gotten into trouble before for this juxtaposition, when it was revealed that Rubio’s parents were not political refugees (as he often claims), but economic migrants. Now another doozy is coming out in Manuel Roig-Franzia’s biography of the Senator, “The Rise of Marco Rubio.”
A forthcoming biography of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is described by author Manuel Roig-Franzia as a “politician who built a political identity on his family story,” reveals an immigration hell for Rubio’s Cuban-born maternal grandfather, who was ordered deported from Florida because he flew in from Cuba without a visa, a decade before Rubio’s birth.
Roig-Franzia, a Style section writer for The Washington Post, writes that the grandfather’s treatment during his 1962 run-in with federal authorities “was not unlike the present-day experiences of many Mexicans and Central Americans who come to the United States legally but later run afoul of visa laws and find their lives irreversibly upended.”
Rubio was born a U.S. citizen in Miami in 1971 to two Cuban exiles who arrived in the U.S. in the late 1950s. Roig-Franzia reports that the grandfather, Pedro Victor García, did not leave the U.S. as ordered, but remained in Miami, possibly on retroactive refugee status.
Grandpapa Rubio emigrated to the US, “tried to make a living but never quite succeeded,” and returned to Cuba to work for the Treasury Ministry. After the Bay of Pigs debacle, in 1962, Pedro Victor García asked his bosses in Cuba for a vacation and decided to take “an incredibly risky step”:
He bought a ticket and boarded Pan American Airlines flight 2422 bound for Miami. Pedro Victor’s troubles began not long after the plane landed. He had a Cuban passport and a U.S. alien registration card, but he didn’t have a visa. … A U.S. immigration official named E.E. Spink detained the sixty-three-year-old grandfather. Spink signed a form that read, ‘you do not appear to me to be clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to enter the United States.’ A photographer snapped a mug shot of Pedro Victor with his alien registration number on a block in front of him. … His cheeks were sunken, there were bags under his eyes, and his mouth was tight. … The paper trail is inconclusive about whether he was forced to spend time in a detention facility. … On October 4, 1962, Pedro Victor appeared before a special inquiry officer, a kind of immigration judge, named Milton V. Milich … Pedro Victor’s hearing was recorded on an Editor Voicewriter … Now full of scratches and audible pops, the records are a remarkable artifact of another era. In thirty-three minutes of testimony they tell the story of a man caught in an immigration non-man’s land, a lesson about the laws that decide who gets to stay in the United States and who must go. … Milich orders ‘that the applicant be excluded and deported from the United States.’ … Pedro Victor … did not leave the country as ordered. In those days deportees weren’t necessarily thrown onto a plane … Pedro Victor’s legal status would remain unresolved for years. He stayed in Miami … [In 1967] Pedro Victor returned to the immigration bureaucracy to ask, once again, to become a permanent resident. … The form he filled out then states that he had been a Cuban refugee since February 1965. Refugee status may have been granted retroactively.
Someone should ask Mitt Romney if that was amnesty.