A self-identified DREAMer is claiming a staffer in Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s Tampa office attempted to get him deported by telling a police officer his immigration status.
Activists with the LGBT advocacy organization GetEqual protested Rubio’s office in Tampa Tuesday, voicing their frustration over his support for enhanced border security and his position on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Three GetEqual protestors were arrested for trespassing and police allegedly probed one, a DREAMer (an undocumented immigrant who came to the country as a child), about his immigration status, according to GetEqual and GetEqual co-director Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, the DREAMer in question.
According to the group and Sousa-Rodriguez, a Rubio staffer told the police responding to the disruption at Rubio’s office that he was here illegally.
Sousa-Rodriguez explained in an interview with The Daily Caller that he was at Rubio’s office to support the protestors and after members of his group were arrested, a police officer asked him about his immigration status.
“The officer asked me, ‘Well, I just have a question for you, are you here illegally?” Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez told The Daily Caller in an interview after the incident. “I looked at him baffled and he said, ‘What is your immigration status?’ Very upfront about it, too. And so I told him, ‘You know, you cannot ask me that question.’ And then he said, ‘Well I’m just asking you,’ and then I said, ‘You know I can sue you for asking that question.’”
“Then he said ‘Well, it was the person inside the office that told me,’” Sousa-Rodriguez added.
Sousa-Rodriguez — an undocumented immigrant from Brazil with a work permit under the Obama Administration’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program (or DACA) — explained that he had been to Rubio’s office before to lobby for immigration reform and that at the time he had disclosed his immigration status to Rubio’s Regional Director, Ryan Patmintra.
According to Sousa-Rodriguez, it was Patmintra who told police that he was in the country illegally.
GetEqual shortly after the protest dispatched a press release charging: “Staffer tries to get DREAMer deported.”
“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,” Sousa-Rodriguez said in the press release. “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.”
Under the Senate immigration bill so called DREAMers could receive permanent legal status in five years.
TheDC’s attempt to reach Patmintra through Rubio’s Tampa office was unsuccessful.
Rubio’s spokesman in Washington, D.C. directed TheDC to the police who dealt with the protestors. The police provided TheDC with a generic press release about the arrests, which did not address the inquiry into Sousa-Rodriguez’s immigration status.
The responding officers did not immediately respond to TheDC’s request for additional information about the incident.
The three GetEqual protestors were released on their own recognizance.
GetEqual is the same organizations that made headlines earlier this month when one of their activists heckled First Lady Michelle Obama at a private fundraising event.
Update 6:35 am: After publication, Rubio’s spokesman in Washington denied Sousa-Rodriguez’s claim that “the staffer discussed the protestors’ immigration status with police.”
“It is not true,” the spokesman wrote in an email.