Marco Rubio Ignores Two Questions on Immigrant Detention

Kevin Rutledge on December 16, 2015
Senator Marco Rubio ignored two questions about ending the immigrant detention quota and his connections with the private prison GEO Group, which lobbied for the detention quota and profits from detaining immigrants. Rubio did not take questions from the audience and did not attempt to answer these questions while shaking hands.

Today, we tried asking Senator Marco Rubio about ending the 34,000 immigrant detention quota and were ignored…twice.  

In the past, Sen. Rubio has answered our question by stating how “we need to enforce the law,” but does not address the corporate influence from private prison industry in establishing immigration policies.  On November 24 in Grinnell, Iowa Sen. Rubio responded, “Ultimately, whatever the best way to enforce the law, we need to do it.  Irrespectful of who the provider is.”  The following week in New Hampshire, the republican presidential candidate again said “we have to enforce our immigration laws.”

This morning in Ankeny, Sen. Rubio didn’t take questions from the audience during his town hall event following the Republican debate last night.  Hector and I waited in line to ask him questions as he talked with many people and took lots of pictures.  Sen. Rubio ignored Hector’s question after hearing about GEO Group contributing to his campaign, the Florida based private prison which lobbied and profits from the detention quota, and told Hector “thanks for coming out, man.” 

It’s difficult to hear Hector in the first video with nearby conversations, but this was the question he began to ask Senator Rubio:

“Hi Senator Rubio, as a young millennial I’m worried about corporations influencing our elected officials.  I read reports stating you received contributions from private prison corporations, such as GEO Group, which profits from locking up immigrants and lobbied for the 34,000 immigrant detention mandate in the federal budget…”

Sen. Rubio interrupted, “Thanks for coming out man,” as he gave Hector a friendly pat on the arm and continued to shake hands with others.

Hector tried addressing him again, “but you didn’t really answer my question.”

After I recorded Kathleen’s interaction with the Senator about the $1 trillion nuclear weapons plan further down the handshake line, I had another opportunity to ask him about the detention quota.

I shook Sen. Rubio’s hand and asked, “Would you end the 34,000 immigrant detention quota?"

Sen. Rubio didn’t address me as he continued walking past and shaking hands telling others “thanks for coming out,” even as the person next to me was waiting for the presidential candidate to respond to my question. I tried getting his attention again, “it’s lobbied by private prisons.”

Afterwards, a woman from CBS News asked me about my question I tried to ask Senator Rubio.  We spoke for about 10 minutes about the private prison industry and the immigrant detention quota, which she never heard of before.  I also spoke with a reporter from The Des Moines Register before the event started.  Hector spoke briefly with a reporter from The Guardian about his question being ignored as well. 

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Kevin Rutledge

Kevin Rutledge AFSC Governing Under the Influence Presidential Campaign Project

Kevin Rutledge is the Grassroots Education Coordinator with AFSC’s Presidential Campaign Project in Iowa.  Kevin has deep family roots in Quaker activism for peace and social justice.  A graduate from Iowa State University in Sociology and Criminal Justice, his previous work includes: United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) organizer, Public Citizen online organizer to overturn Citizens United, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, and a youth residential treatment facility.  Kevin hopes to one day return to Brazil and live by the beach.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill .