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23 October 2011

The Rubio Controversy

This piece from the Washington Post seems to hint that Marco Rubio's parents weren't exactly who they say they were -- fleeing exiles from Castro's Communist regime, and instead seems to indicate that Marco Rubio, as a son, has not been completely forthright about his parents' heritage.

So let the conspiracies begin! I personally see the following possibilities:

1) There was a mixup at the State Department and some documents were screwed up.
2) Rubio is a sleazy politician who will say anything, including lying about his history, to win elections.
3) Rubio was told by his parents that he was a child of exiles, and he should be proud of it, even if they didn't tell their boy the full truth.
4) Rubio's parents looked at the nature of the visa regime, decided that applying for permanent residency was worth any extra hassle in case they decided to stay in the US in the future, and thus decided against applying for a long-term visa of a year or two (if that was even available at the time).

Let's quickly rule out No. 1, and let's assume No. 2 has only the kernel of truth typical for a US Senator. I'm sure that Rubio also dated the Homecoming Queen (in Canada -- it's nobody you know). As angry as he was after this article came out, it seems like he's not exactly willing to sweep the controversy under the rug, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. If more information comes to light, I'm sure the intrepid journalists at WaPo will be more than happy to enlighten the citizenry.

That brings us to Nos. 3 and 4, which are not mutually exclusive possibilities.
As someone who has lived abroad for the last 6 years, I am well aware of the choices one makes in these contexts. Issues such as taxes, health insurance, utility bills, or marriage all are affected by the type of residency permit one has when he lives in a foreign country, and the laws of the country at the time (which may change substantially over the course of the visa's duration, even if only a year or six months). I would not be in the least surprised if Marco's parents evaluated their situation and determined that in 1957, for Mario and Oriales Rubio, a green card was the most rational thing to apply for. Would it have seemed in 1957 that they still would have had the option to return to Cuba with a green card, perhaps as retirees or after making enough money to reinvest it back "home?" That seems rather plausible to me. Bear in mind that by all indications, they did absolutely nothing illegal or even unreasonable. They may have said, "hmmmm.... well, let's stay here for five years and make some money. Then we'll go back and raise a family like normal people. But we'll apply for green cards just in case we like it here, or we get really good jobs, or we discover a really cool Florida rock band." Two years in, the plan fell apart, and the all paths back to Cuba were closed when it became a Workers' Paradise.

And you can be damn sure they felt like exiles when they realized they could never go home.

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