Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 | 1:29 p.m.
The nation’s intensifying immigration debate came to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio during a book tour stop in Las Vegas this morning when a local activist confronted the Florida Republican over his opposition to programs granting deportation relief to millions of people living in the country illegally.
Rubio, a likely presidential contender whose tour stops include key election states, visited Nevada to promote his new political tome, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.”
Amid a crowd of nearly 100 supporters, a group of local immigrant advocates rallied around Astrid Silva as she asked Rubio about his opposition to President Barack Obama’s divisive executive actions on immigration, which were dealt a significant blow this week by a federal judge in Texas.
“I wanted him to see our faces,” Silva told news cameras in Spanish as her eyes welled with tears. “I told him, you could be the Latino community’s pride if you just supported this.”
But Rubio had the backing of other Latinos in the crowd, including Aleyda Hernandez, who accused Obama of misleading millions of hopeful immigrants with a deal that was destined to fail.
Hernandez, a 66-year-old Cuban immigrant who moved to the United States after obtaining asylum from her home country, said she believes the president’s plan will be quashed in federal court.
“It breaks my heart to think of all the families Obama lied to,” Hernandez said in Spanish. “It’s not fair to give people hope like this. People are very naive.”
After the event, the senator told reporters he has a better plan for immigration reform. Rubio said his three-step system is explained in "American Dreams":
“Step one is to show the American people that we’re serious about bringing future illegal immigration under control,” Rubio said. “Step two is reforming our legal immigration system so that it works better, so that it’s less costly, more efficient and better for our country. Step three is dealing reasonably with the people that have been here a long period of time and have not otherwise violated our laws.”