Will Marco Rubio's Stance on Immigration Hurt His Political Career?

Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio may be on the short list for the Republican vice-presidential nomination for the 2012 elections, but his stance on immigration may hurt his chances to appeal to Latino voters.

In a recent interview with Telemundo Noticias, Rubio said he would not support the DREAM act, which was re-introduced earlier this month. “Until the borders are secure, and the jobs are secured in terms of immigration, it’s very difficult to continue with the next step,” he told the Spanish television network, adding that he’s also in favor of enforcing the current immigration laws.

Rubio told Politico.com that while he does want to help the undocumented youth who were brought to the United States by their parents, he doesn’t believe the Dream Act is the way to do it.  Besides, he told the political news site, he's been busy dealing with other issues.

“Immigration is an important issue, and it should be tackled and dealt with, but right now it’s not more important than the price of gas or the lack of jobs or the crushing debt,” he said. “Those are the issues that have dominated the talk in Washington.”

As syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette puts it: “Marco Rubio is the Republican Party’s Superman. And the immigration issue, if not handled correctly, is his kryptonite.”

In turn, immigration activists are questioning his motives after he supported a Florida bill in 2004 that would reduce tuition for undocumented students when he was in the state legislature, according to Politico.com.

“Having known him, his political career and knowing where he comes from — a hardworking immigrant family — one has to wonder what it is that he’s thinking or how his political ambitions outweigh his life experiences,” Jorge Mursuli, executive director of Miami-based Democracia, told Politico.com. “It’s not only disappointing; it’s disheartening and, frankly, almost unbelievable.”

During election time last year, a Latino Decisions poll revealed that Rubio earned 62 percent of the Latino vote in Florida. Furthermore, his own immigrant background becomes significant when 78 percent of the Latino voters were of Cuban descent.

Rubio’s parents fled to the United States from Cuba in the 1950s, and both worked in the service industry. His father was a bartender and his mother a hotel maid, according to Politico.com.

While Republicans value his influence on Hispanic voters, they don’t necessarily expect him to be pro-immigration.  “For people to fundamentally expect somebody, because of their ethnic background, to act one way or the other, is wrong,” Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions said to Politico.com “Each of us should try to serve the national interest, and I believe few people here seek to do that more than Marco Rubio.”

Do you believe that as a son of Cuban immigrants, Marco Rubio should be supportive of immigration reforms like the DREAM Act?