FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2013
Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, email@example.com, 305-321-1784
Heather Cronk, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-491-7240
Three Activists Led Away in Handcuffs from Rubio’s Office; Rubio Staffer Tries to Get DREAMer Deported
As Activists Call for More Humane Immigration Reform, Rubio Regional Director Tells Police a DREAMer in Room “Is Here Illegally”
TAMPA, FL — Earlier today, three LGBT activists staged a sit-in at the Tampa office of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), calling for an end to his dangerous moves to radically increase border security in the Senate immigration bill and for an end to his obstruction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
As these activists were being led away from Sen. Rubio’s office for drawing attention to these regressive views and to call on Sen. Rubio to “evolve” his views on immigration and employment discrimination, a Rubio staffer told the police officers in the room that one of the people in the room — GetEQUAL Co-Director Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez — “is here illegally.”
Despite the fact that Felipe was serving in a support role and was not risking arrest or otherwise breaking any laws, the officer proceeded to ask Felipe whether he has papers, and asked to see his drivers license.
Felipe is undocumented, sent to the U.S. by his mother in Brazil. He has a work permit under the Obama Administration’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program (or DACA). He is also a DREAMer — the name given to young people brought or sent to the U.S. by family members to escape poverty and seek a better life.
Under the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program Secure Communities (S-COMM), law enforcement officers are not permitted to ask about an individual’s immigration status unless a law has been broken (http://www.ice.gov/secure_communities/). Even if an undocumented immigrant breaks the law and is arrested, ICE policies still do not require the individual to answer questions about her or his immigration status.
“It’s no wonder Senator Rubio embraced the ‘Border Surge’ amendment in the Senate yesterday, which will destroy border towns and immigrant families — his staff are doing exactly the same thing in their own office,” said Felipe Sousa Rodriguez. “The idea that Senator Rubio is taking immigration reform seriously is a joke — even his staff is engaged in profiling immigrants and deporting as many people as possible. Rubio is not just anti-LGBT, but he’s also anti-immigrant.”
Activists went to Sen. Rubio’s office today to call the Senator out for recent comments about the inclusion of same-sex binational couples in immigration reform and inclusion of LGBT Americans in workplace non-discrimination law, and to ask for an apology for Rubio’s stances on these issues.
Regarding immigration reform, Rubio recently said, “If this bill…gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth…it kills the bill. I’m done. I’m off it.”
When asked about ending LGBT employment discrimination, Rubio recently said that he opposes, “any special protections based on orientation.”
“I took action today because we need equality for all,” said Rev. Barb Lawrence, one of the three LGBT activists involved with the sit-in. “We need to stand up and take action against the bigotry of our political leaders.”
“We should all have equality. We are expected to obey the laws of this land and pay taxes, yet we are not treated equally under the law,” said Rev. Kimmy Denny. “We’re treated like second-class citizens, and we need political leaders like Marco Rubio to stop playing political games with our lives.”
GetEQUAL is a national grassroots social justice organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information, go to www.getequal.org. You can also follow GetEQUAL on Facebook at www.facebook.com/getequal or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/getequal.