Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) again got caught in a blame game with Democrats on Tuesday, this time after his Democratic opponent criticized her challenge to Rubio’s executive order that let young undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S.
In the past week, Rubio has struggled to defend his now-dead executive order, which offered young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation. On Monday, two Democrats running for Rubio’s Senate seat renewed their calls for him to “secure the border” to “protect our communities.”
Rubio’s camp fired back on Tuesday.
“The election-cycle charade continues,” Rubio campaign spokeswoman Alexandra Snyder told The Washington Post on Tuesday. “Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Al Gore all used the same line. Florida voters deserve to hear Sen. Rubio’s position.”
Rubio met with the Obama administration in 2014 as part of its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Barack Obama took in 2012. Under the program, undocumented immigrants between the ages of 16 and 31 who were brought to the U.S. as children were shielded from deportation. The DACA policy made it possible for about 800,000 undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.
Rubio took a different approach: in September 2014, he enacted a new immigration policy, rolling back the 2012 DACA protections. In December, Rubio announced his hope to revive immigration reform talks with the White House. But he has struggled to explain his decision, and found himself at odds with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a fellow Republican and ally of Trump.
Marco Rubio was born in Brooklyn. He pledged to help students like him get into American colleges. pic.twitter.com/f0zO9o94Bp — Mauricio Machado (@MASMALADO) January 16, 2014
While the Obama administration remained silent on Rubio’s executive order, Democrats immediately started attacking it, saying it created a “permanent, open-ended invitation to enter the country without going through our legal immigration system” and “undermines any serious effort to enact immigration reform.”
Along with Senate minority leader Schumer, the party’s House leader Pelosi, and Gore, they called on Rubio to “stop the hypocrisy, reevaluate, and do what’s right for the people in your district.”
On Monday, Rubio’s Democratic opponent, Alex Sink, called for Rubio to “secure the border,” while recalling the effects the border invasion had in her home state.
“We have now heard one excuse after another from the office of Marco Rubio,” Sink said. “As a woman who has lived through the immigration crisis in Central Florida, I see these excuses for, and attacks on our immigration system as a reckless and irresponsible partisan stunt.”
On Tuesday, Democrats attempted to link Rubio to President Donald Trump’s campaign on the issue, with a write-in candidate, non-candidate Lizbeth Benacquisto, also submitting her name to challenge Rubio.
Despite saying that her “career-long opposition to illegal immigration” is “no secret,” Benacquisto was later spotted at a Trump rally in Florida in November. Benacquisto later defended herself in a statement, saying that she had “no idea about” her extracurricular plans until a reporter alerted her.