When trying to explain Rick Scott’s campaign ads in Spanish or stump speeches at Latino events, the Halloween tradition of “trick or treating” comes in handy.
These days Rick Scott is tricking immigrants, especially Latinos as he campaigns for the U.S. Senate. It’s not that Scott is some chameleon, who simply changes or shifts his positions on immigration, as some reporters have suggested.
It’s far worse than that: He’s simply lying to our faces.
Scott is the same super-wealthy Republican who as governor vetoed driver’s licenses for undocumented people, opposed DACA and cheered on his Attorney General to sue President Obama to overturn DAPA, which offered protections for millions of parents of U.S. citizen children from deportations. But that’s not the Rick Scott that shows up in election years.
What we get is the pandering, lying Rick Scott who sounds like he cares about us. Scott thinks he can get away with offering us treats now by speaking to us in Spanish. We see right through it. All voters should, but especially Latinos and immigrants.
Consider the differences between how Scott talks to voters in North Florida versus Central and South Florida. In largely white North Florida, Scott presents immigration as a dangerous problem – just as he did when he first ran for Governor in 2010, when he campaigned supporting Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, which at the time was the strictest and harshest anti-immigrant law in the country. But among the largely Latino populations in Central and South Florida, Scott falsely claims he speaks out when he disagrees with Trump, and is committed to us.
In reality, Scott has never been our champion or defender. Far from it. In fact, he was strongly encouraged by Trump to run for the U.S. Senate in the first place.
Scott’s long history against immigrants and undocumented young people angers me and many of my friends. The painful reality is that many of us have also become scared by Scott’s actions harming Latino families and immigrants across all of Florida.
After I came from Mexico as a young child, I spent years fearing the future, making myself invisible because I was mortified of being outed as “the girl who came here illegally.”
I wanted to let all my classmates who were born in the United States know that I came to South Florida from Mexico when I was two years old with my family. We arrived with a small amount of money but big dreams. As I made it through high school, I developed goals and ambitions just like any other American kid.
I’ll never forget the joy I felt when I received my approval for DACA. But this is the same joy Scott tried to deny me and countless other young immigrants in Florida for years.
He’s made it clear he is willing to penalize me and so many other immigrants like me.
Although I can’t vote, I have many friends and loved ones in Florida who can. A New American Economy study shows there are at least 151,943 American citizens living with DACA-eligible immigrants, among them 62,803 are of age and eligible to vote. The fate and safety of immigrants are in their hands–and who they elect–this election.
That’s why immigrant youth like me have been reaching out to these eligible voters here in Florida to tell them how they can stand up for DACA, the Dream Act, and justice for all immigrants in this year’s U.S. Senate race.
Floridians should support a real champion for Latinos and immigrant communities, not someone who is pandering and lying to us. We need and deserve someone who will fight so we can gain a pathway to citizenship and protection from Trump’s deportation force.
None of us are fooled by Rick Scott’s election-year treats.
Aranza Diaz is a DACA recipient, high school senior in South Florida and a member of United We Dream Action.