Las Vegas Sun (Opinion-Nevada)
By Isaac Barron
October 22, 2015
The Koch brothers’ Libre Initiative recently hosted Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, allegedly for a conversation about issues important to the Hispanic community. That’s all well and good, but Rubio and Libre Executive Director Daniel Garza left out some key pieces of information, thus revealing that their policies benefit the billionaire Koch brothers, not working-class Nevada families.
Rubio, who said he’s “clearly aligned” with the Koch brothers on most issues, has abandoned the priorities of our community. Rubio won his Senate seat because the Tea Party recognized his potential as a champion for far-right, extremist policies. Since, he had one major chance to prioritize the needs of our community and our nation over the Tea Party, but he failed to do so.
More than two years ago, Rubio joined a bipartisan group of senators to push for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. He then turned his back on our community and has been running from us ever since. He believes his work in favor of the bill was a mistake. In the forum, Rubio said he no longer supports this commonsense approach to immigration reform because the votes aren’t there in Congress. But when the bill was actually up for a vote, the Senate passed the bill. In the House, Republican Speaker John Boehner wouldn’t let the bill come up for a vote. If he had, enough Republicans likely would have joined the Democrats to pass the bill.
Now Rubio says he no longer supports comprehensive immigration reform. If he becomes president, he has ruled out citizenship or legal status for undocumented immigrants during his time in the White House. In the forum, he left out the fact that he wants to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents — the programs that protect Dreamers and families from deportation — and he’s voted in the Senate to block the programs. That’s plain wrong.
As a high school teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how incredible Dreamers are. At my school we’ve had several valedictorians who are Dreamers. These students deserve the chance to stay in the United States with their families and pursue their dreams.
But Daniel Garza didn’t challenge Rubio on his immigration stances because the Libre Initiative generally agrees with his priorities. The Koch-backed group is a Republican front that aims to persuade Hispanics to support Republicans. Their policy priorities are out of line with the majority of our community, as are the candidates the group supports. They oppose the 2014 executive actions from President Barack Obama that keep families from being separated. They even ran ads that attacked Hispanic Democrats who backed comprehensive immigration reform and supported Republicans who voted against the bill. While Rubio and the Libre Initiative give lip service to immigration reform, their actions against the immigration priorities of our community speak much louder than their words.
Both Rubio and the Libre Initiative rail against the Affordable Care Act even though Hispanics are among the groups benefiting most from the law. During the forum, Rubio suggested that repealing and replacing the ACA (not, for example, raising the minimum wage) would help solve the very real problem Rubio described: that “jobs just don’t pay enough.” In the past, Rubio went so far as to support efforts to shut down the government in order to defund the ACA.
Through the ACA, more Nevada Hispanics have health insurance than ever before, meaning we have much more affordable health care. For those who now have insurance, preventative care, such as cancer screenings, comes at no cost to them. As Hispanics are disproportionately more likely to face health concerns such as obesity and diabetes, it’s especially important to regularly visit a doctor.
Rubio and the Libre Initiative stand together against our community, and we should hold them accountable, asking them why they oppose programs we know work for us, our families and our community. Organizations and candidates should listen to voters, but Rubio and the Libre Initiative have made clear that they listen to the Koch brothers and their friends more than their constituents. Rubio calls himself the candidate of the future, but in reality, he stands with the Kochs’ Libre Initiative in supporting regressive policies that make it harder for Hispanic families to get ahead.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com