But I do think it is going to have to end. And, God willing, it’s going to end because immigration reform is going to pass. DAPA hasn’t yet taken effect, and I think it has impeded progress on immigration, on immigration reform. And since that program hasn’t taken effect yet, I would cancel it.
But DACA, I think it is important; it can’t be cancelled suddenly because there are already people who are benefiting from it. [This should read: “But DACA, I think it’s important not to cancel it from one moment to the next because you already have people benefiting from it.”;
But it is going to have to end. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States. And I don’t think that’s what they’re asking for, either. I think that everyone prefers immigration reform.
JR: But then, to clarify, you would end DACA once immigration reform is approved. But what happens, Senator, if there is no immigration reform? Would you cancel DACA anyway?
At some point it’s going to have to end. That is, it cannot continue to be the permanent policy of the United States. I do think that if I wind up being president, it will be possible to achieve new immigration reform. It won’t be possible for it to be comprehensive; that is, they are not going to be able to do everything in one massive bill. We already tried that a couple of years ago. We have seen that the political support isn’t there, and I think we’ve spent a lot of time on this process when we could have started moving forward through the three steps that I advocated. Unfortunately, a lot of time has been wasted on that. It has become an even more controversial issue; harder to move forward on that issue. But I still say that it’s important to modernize our system, and that means improving the way we enforce it in the future, to modernize the immigration system so that it’s not so costly and bureaucratic. And we have to deal with 12 million human beings who are already here. And nobody, nobody is advocating a plan to deport12 million human beings. So that issue has to be dealt with, as well.
JR: When you announced your candidacy, outside of the building where you announced it, there were a lot of Dreamers, protesting. And then there are some immigrant organizations that have criticized your candidacy. America’s Voice says that you have anti-immigrant positions. I would like to ask you, you were in favor of an immigration reform bill in the Senate, and you voted for it. But today, would you vote in favor of a path to legalization for 11 million undocumented people?
Well, that can’t be done today for the following reason. I don’t think we can. I have been very clear. I, through that two-year experience, it’s very clear to me. We’re not going to have the votes or the necessary political support in Congress. Today, in some sectors of the American public, in order to move forward on this issue, unless we first prove to the American people that in the future there’s not going to be another
immigration crisis. If we do that, I think that undoubtedly the political support is going to exist to do legalization as you have said. It has to be a process similar to what we advocated in the legislation that I sponsored, and it’s the law that says that, first, the things we’re all familiar with must be present: a background check, pay a fine, begin to pay taxes, get a work permit, and after 10 years, they can apply for their residency. That would be the process, but we can’t get to that point. Politically, the support and the votes in Congress aren’t there until we prove to those members of Congress and the American people that immigration laws are going to be enforced.
Senator, I want to ask you about Cuba. I know it’s an issue close to your heart, since both your parents are Cuban immigrants. Nonetheless, the majority of Cuban-Americans agree with ending the embargo, and they also agree, according to the polls,with this new approach of President Barack Obama to Cuba. If you reached the White House and were president, would you cut relations with Cuba? And what do you think about President Barack Obama’s calling Raúl Castro “president”?
Well, he isn’t a president. He can call himself whatever he likes, but RaúlCastro hasn’t been elected to absolutely anything. He is tyrant and a dictator. In terms of relations with Cuba, right? I would like to have relations with a free, democratic Cuba, or a country that’s making progress toward that. And that doesn’t exist. The Cuban people are the only people in Latin America who haven’t had free elections in more than 50 years. I think that is unfair, and I think the Cuban people deserve that. In my opinion, I say that it’s still a government that supports terrorism. Just today we’ve seen, this week we’ve seen the news that the FARC have again kidnapped and killed 10 people in Colombia. That is a group that receives help and support and shelter from the Cuban government.
Would you cut relations with Cuba? If you reach the White House, you’ll cut relations?
Unless it’s a democratic country or it starts taking concrete steps toward democracy, of course.
JR: Senator, you are the youngest candidate among those who have run or will run, 43 years old. But —
SMR: 44 next month, Jorge.
JR: 44 next month. However, you have certain positions; for example, you’re against same-sex marriage, which is not what most young people believe in, according to the polls. Are you afraid of being portrayed in the media as an old young man, as some people in Latin America say?
Well, I don’t believe that’s true. A significant percentage of Americans support my position on marriage between a woman and a man. I understand that there are discrepancies and a change of attitude, and I believe that if people want to change the laws about marriage in a democracy, in a republic, they can do so through their state legislatures. The states have always regulated marriage and can continue to do so. I believe that if the attitude in the country has changed, well, there is a democratic process through which they can make that change. What I don’t support is for the courts to determine this issue because I don’t think it’s up to the courts. I think it’s up to the political branch of each state to decide how it wants to regulate and how to define marriage laws.
And I’ll finish with a more personal question, Senator. We have had first ladies with very defined personalities: Michelle Obama, for example, or Hillary Clinton.Your wife Jeanette is Colombian-American. What would Jeanette be like as a first lady?
SMR: I think she would be excellent. She has a heart for issues, for example, the trafficking of human beings, which is a crisis today throughout the world. A person who is also interested in children’s issues and education. And also a person who, to me, is a great mother, a great wife, which is also important, right? Because having stability in the family is critical for being able to do the job well as a team. I would also consider her partof that team. But I believe that the country is going to love Jeanette when it gets to know her better.
JR: And that image that came out of you with your four children, to many,even if they were from the other political party, it reminded them of President John F.Kennedy.
SMR: Well, a figure from different times, undoubtedly. Former President Kennedy had a beautiful family as well. It’s more than an honor to know his daughter, who is now the ambassador to Japan. But, again, I believe it is important, that people want to know where you came from, what your family is like. And as we say, “My children are Colom-ban,” which is a combination of Colombian and Cuban, a very good
JR: Senator, thanks for speaking with us and I hope we can continue this conversation throughout the campaign. Thank you.
SMR: Thank you very much, Jorge.