Florida Senator Marco Rubio was forced to confront the country’s intensifying immigration debate at his book signing in Las Vegas.
Over a hundred people stood in line to meet with the Senator and get their book signed. Astrid Silva, a young Hispanic woman, was one of them.
“I’m very disappointed,” Silva told Fox News Latino. “I thought that as a presidential candidate he would have more options.”
Silva is an undocumented worker. She introduced President Obama when he was in Las Vegas in November to announce his executive order to pardon millions of undocumented workers.
That order has since been put on hold by a federal judge in Texas.
Astrid approached the senator during the book signing to ask how he feels about Obama’s plan and the judge’s temporary order.
Rubio addressed the issue, telling Silva and the crowd that he is in favor of keeping DACA in place but does not support Obama’s immigration order.
“What I’ve talked about repealing is the new order, but I think we have to do this legislatively,” Rubio said. “I still think we have to deal with that issue.”
Rubio shared his idea for a three-step system that would deal with undocumented workers who have been here for a while and haven’t broken the law. They would have to leave the country, pay a fine and then return with a work permit.
Silva was outraged that Rubio does not stand in favor of allowing undocumented families to stay in the country. Following a press conference at the book signing, Silva tried to get Rubio’s attention by speaking directly to him in Spanish.
“I’m undocumented, my parents are undocumented,” Silva said, fighting back tears. “I wanted to see if Senator Rubio, like his book 'American Dreams,' really was going to talk about a solution for our families.”
One-third of the Vegas population is Hispanic. Rubio himself once lived there.
But unlike the Latinos in Las Vegas, and most of the country outside Florida, who are mostly of Mexican descent, Rubio is Cuban-American, and people from that island hold a privileged position in the immigration system. They automatically qualify for legal residence here, provided that they aren't apprehended at sea and make it to U.S. soil.
The heated exchange with Silva indicates that Rubio’s position on immigration could place a wedge between him and Latino voters.
“Unfortunately I can’t vote. I hope to be able to one day if legislation is able to pass, but for right now I know that Senator Rubio doesn’t stand with my family or the millions of other undocumented families,” Astrid said.
Matt Finn is a Fox News correspondent based in the Chicago bureau. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFinnFNC