Florida Senator Marco Rubio is dismissing allegations he embellished his family's history by describing his parents were Cuban exiles, rather than as more traditional immigrants.
The Florida political leader has always publicly identified himself as part of the Cuban exile community. His Senate website states that his parents came to America following Fidel Castro's 1959 takeover.
Rubio insists that if you're prevented from returning to your country because of political reasons that makes you an exile.
In a report published on Thursday, the Washington Post claims that Rubio's parents emigrated to the U.S. in 1956. At that time, although Fidel Castro had already launched a famous, failed attack on Moncada police barracks just outside of Santiago, Cuba, Castro was in Mexico planning and recruiting a guerilla band. He would not overthrow the Cuban government until 1959 - more than 2 1/2 years after Rubio's parents departure.
The paper claims that Rubio's documents -including naturalization papers and other official documents- imply that Rubio has embellished his family story.
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"The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity," the article reads. "The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative."
Rubio is a rising star in the Republican Party. He's viewed as key to boosting the party's Hispanic outreach, despite holding a hardline on immigration.
Rubio says his parents are exiles because they tried to move back to Cuba in 1961 but decided they didn't want to live under Communism.
“Anyone who can’t return to their natural country is an exile, if you can’t return for political reasons,” he said to the St. Petersburg Times.
His father was a bartender.
The allegations come at the same time as the so-called “birthers,” some of the same individuals who challenged the validity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, are questioning Rubio's eligibility to run for president or vice-president of the United States .
Charles Kerchner, a birther blogger who posted copies of Rubio's parents naturalization documents, says Rubio, though born in the United States, was not born to U.S. citizens and therefore can’t be characterized as a natural-born citizen. Kerchner argues that only those born to U.S. citizens are viable candidates under the law.
Legal experts such as Alfonso Aguilar, currently the Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, dismisses the "birther" issue as "absurd."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.