Marco Rubio Biography: Grandfather Was Ordered Deported

Apr 25, 2012 10:04am
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A forthcoming biography of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will reveal that his grandfather was ordered deported from the U.S. after flying in from Cuba without a visa.

A preview of “The Rise of Marco Rubio,” an unauthorized biography written by Manuel Roig-Franzia, a reporter with the Washington Post, was obtained by Politico and details the immigration travails of Rubio’s grandfather, a fact that could increase scrutiny on the potential VP pick.

According to the preview, Rubio’s maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor Garcia, had emigrated to the United States but chose to return to Cuba to tend to the shoe store he left behind in Havana after dictator Fulgencio Batista abdicated his rule. The book explains that upon his return, he began working for the Castro government at Cuba’s Treasury Ministry, but as he grew uncomfortable with Castro’s regime, Rubio’s grandfather tried to make his way back to the United States without a visa, 10 years before Rubio was born.

“It was that on August 31, 1962, he took an incredibly risky step. He bought a ticket and boarded Pan American Airlines flight 2422 bound for Miami. Pedro Victor’s troubles began not long after the plane landed. He had a Cuban passport and a U.S. alien registration card, but he didn’t have a visa,” the preview obtained by Politico reads. “A U.S. immigration official named E.E. Spink detained the 63-year-old grandfather. Spink signed a form that read, ‘you do not appear to me to be clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to enter the United States.’ A photographer snapped a mug shot of Pedro Victor with his alien registration number on a block in front of him. … His cheeks were sunken, there were bags under his eyes, and his mouth was tight.

“The paper trail is inconclusive about whether he was forced to spend time in a detention facility. … On October 4, 1962, Pedro Victor appeared before a special inquiry officer, a kind of immigration judge, named Milton V. Milich … Pedro Victor’s hearing was recorded on an Editor Voicewriter … Now full of scratches and audible pops, the records are a remarkable artifact of another era. In 33 minutes of testimony they tell the story of a man caught in an immigration non-man’s land, a lesson about the laws that decide who gets to stay in the United States and who must go. … “Milich orders ‘that the applicant be excluded and deported from the United States.’”

“Pedro Victor … did not leave the country as ordered. In those days deportees weren’t necessarily thrown onto a plane … Pedro Victor’s legal status would remain unresolved for years. He stayed in Miami … [In 1967] Pedro Victor returned to the immigration bureaucracy to ask, once again, to become a permanent resident. … The form he filled out then states that he had been a Cuban refugee since February 1965. Refugee status may have been granted retroactively.”

Rubio is currently crafting a bill that would serve as an alternative to the DREAM Act. Rubio’s version would offer undocumented students non-immigrant visas to complete their educations and allow them to stay in the country while they seek permanent status, though it would not be guaranteed.

Roig-Franzia’s book will also shed light on the Rubio family’s dabbling in Mormonism while they lived in Las Vegas beginning when Rubio was 7 or 8 years old. In an interview earlier this month, Rubio said he remembers little of his family’s involvement with Mormonism and says he is a practicing Roman Catholic.

“The Rise of Marco Rubio” is set to be released June 19, the same day as Rubio’s autobiography, “An American Son: A Memoir.”

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