We are here. We are in Arizona, a major Latino state and home of next week's Republican presidential primary. We are in Florida, another major Latino state and home to one of last month's primaries. We are in large and small cities across America. DREAMers like us are here, working hard to serve our communities, and all we want is an opportunity to continue our work as residents and citizens.
You rarely leave Washington and Florida. You don't know Latinos in the rest of the country and polls tell us that most Latinos don't know you. And you don't support the DREAM Act and other positive immigration policies strongly supported by most Latinos. So what gives you the authority to speak on behalf of Latinos on immigration?
We write to you today on behalf of DREAMers and other Latinos across our nation to ask you to reverse your opposition to the DREAM Act, as well as to reverse your support of Arizona's SB-1070 racial profiling law and other copy-cat anti-immigrant policies. If you are to be a real national Latino leader, one who is acknowledged and respected by our community, we need you to reject the Tea Party-backed anti-immigration policies, and we need you to show your support for hardworking young immigrants in college through your vote.
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We don't need any more flowery speeches about your immigrant family or about the “tone” of the immigration debate. As the Arizona primary puts the national focus back on Latinos, we need you to support policies that will actually do something to give hard-working, well-intentioned immigrants a path out of the shadows of undocumented status, and toward becoming fully contributing and recognized members of American society. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Earlier this year, you said that “when politicians and political figures speak about the issue of migration, they’re not just talking about a legal issue. They’re speaking about the real lives of real people that so many of us love and care for.”
We heard you say that and we've heard your personal story, which is why we cannot understand your refusal to support the DREAM Act, or your insistence on supporting of one of the most anti-immigrant, anti-Latino pieces of legislation in the country, Arizona's SB-1070. We seek the same opportunity provided to you and your parents. No more. No less.
Like your parents, our parents came here to make a better life for their children. We did not choose to come here. We, too, are forever grateful for our new home country – the United States – and for the opportunities that we now have to work hard toward a better future. We are as American as your parents or as you are, Senator Rubio. Why don't you support us?
We DREAMers are here, listening to politicians like you – one of the select group of Latino elected officials in Congress – making speeches as if you will “deliver the Latino vote.” The problem with your words is, for example, that approximately 91% of Latinos do support the DREAM Act. And yet you do not. Broad support for the DREAM Act comes from leaders across party lines and ideology within business, education and religion. And yet you still oppose the DREAM Act.
Listening to your soaring and compassionate words saddens us. Not because you don't appear to care about the struggles we face. We are saddened and angered because your words are not matched by your actions or policy positions, which more closely resemble those of the Tea Party and other anti-Latino, anti-immigrant groups than they do Latinos.
Your success should be a point of inspiration for us, rather than one of anger or frustration. Outside of the Latino community, many have begun to speak of you as the likely vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party. But among Latinos, especially among many of us young Latinos, the similarities between you and us feels skin deep, at best.
You mentioned in the same well-delivered speech a few weeks ago that “number one, I’m not who they think I am and number two, I don’t stand for what they claim I stand for.” Now is the time to show us. Show us who you are and what you stand for. Now is the time to demonstrate that you are not the anti-immigrant son of immigrants that your policies – and growing numbers of Latinos – say you are. Show your support for the DREAM Act and other positive immigration policies, Senator Rubio.
Young students are looking to you now. We are DREAMers. You hold our dreams in your hands. And, if you don't change your positions, many of us in the Latino community may hold your dreams – and those of the Republican Party – in ours.
DREAMers across America.
Erika Andiola and Mayra
Mayra is from Lakeland, Florida. Originally from Naranjo, Alajuela, Costa Rica, Mayra immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 6 months old. She is undocumented and lives in Lakeland, Florida where she is an organizer for Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER), a grassroots organization founded by undocumented immigrant youth in Florida. Currently a student at Polk State College, she aspires to earn a law degree specializing in immigration law.
Erika Andiola is originally from Durango, Mexico but immigrated to Mesa, Arizona when she was 11 with her family. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Psychology. Erika is one of the co-founders of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition (ADAC), which is an umbrella organization of groups and individuals across the state of Arizona who are interested in fighting for the welfare of immigrant students.