Senate candidate Patrick Murphy meets with immigration activists in Orlando
For almost an hour on Monday, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy heard the horror stories.
Families who had lived in the United States for years split up, honor students left with no options after high school graduation except picking produce, and victims of violent crimes afraid to report them.
It all came during a meeting Murphy arranged with about 15 immigration activists including Dreamers, children brought to the United States by undocumented parents but face the threat of deportation because they are not legal citizens.
Murphy told the group that if he is elected to the U.S. Senate over Republican Marco Rubio in November, he’ll fight to help them and supports President Barack Obama’s executive actions that have delayed deportation enforcement against Dreamers. Rubio has opposed Obama’s executive actions, calling them unconstitutional.
“I’m never going to turn my back on you,” Murphy told the group. “I’m never going to flip flop because a political party or someone tells me to.”
That’s a shot a Rubio, who Murphy has accused of changing his position on helping Dreamers. In 2012, Rubio met with immigration activists and worked on legislation specifically to help Dreamers. He never filed a bill. He said his efforts failed after Obama issued his executive orders and “poisoned” efforts on Capitol Hill that could have led to a legislative solution. Rubio has since called for repealing Obama’s orders, even though it could put 750,000 people who have been granted temporary reprieve from deportation in jeopardy.
In an interview with the Times/Herald last week, Rubio said he still wants to help Dreamers and work on the immigration reform issue, but said Obama’s executive actions exceeded his authority.
“Believe me I understand the sympathy people have,” Rubio said of Dreamers. “I have it myself. I know a lot of these young people. It’s sad. They come here, they are three years old and they face the situation they now have. But that has to be balanced with the fact that we can’t violate the Constitution of the United States. It’s what holds our country together.”
Murphy’s comments on Monday come at the same time the Florida Democratic Party is putting out mailers accusing Rubio of having “flip flopped” on immigration and trying to align him with Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Rubio’s campaign accused Murphy of distorting Rubio’s record and not doing anything to help Florida’s Hispanic community over the last four years while he has been in the U.S. House.
“Floridians have a clear choice between re-electing a senator with a strong record of fighting for them, or Patrick Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and ineffective," said Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for Rubio’s campaign.