An El Salvador-born Rubio supporter says his candidate can fix broken immigration system

This story is a part of

Global Nation

This story is a part of

Global Nation


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was born in Miami in 1971 to Cuban parents. 


Chris Keane/Reuters

If you're tired of hearing about candidates "locking up the Latino vote," or "wooing Hispanics at the ballot box," Dallas entrepreneur Oscar Castillo can sympathize. 

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

He hates the generalizations too.

"When I hear 'the Latino vote,' I wonder what people mean. ... I cringe when I hear that," says Castillo, a businessman who spent the first six years of his life in El Salvador. "When I sit and chat with my friends [from] within Latin America, when we talk about Latin America, it's not one nation, it's 20-plus nations."

Castillo says he supports the candidacy of Marco Rubio, but adds that he had to be convinced in part because of the Florida senator's heritage. 

"In the beginning, I have to admit I was kind of hesitant," Castillo says. "Just the fact that he's Cuban" was a drawback, says the Texas businessman.

But over time, Castillo says he was won over, in part because of Rubio's family narrative.

On the campaign trail, Rubio alludes frequently to his Cuban parents' struggles after they arrived in Florida two years before Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government.  Castillo says that story reminds him of his own mother and father, who came to the US as evangelical missionaries, hoping to start a Spanish-speaking ministry in Dallas in the mid-90s. 

"I kind of hear his narrative and his story, it started to resonate. I started to identify with him," Castillo says. "I do hear him talk about his parents and I identify with that. They were kind of the sacrificial lambs if you will, to start this new generation here in the US."

Castillo admits that Rubio's  positions on immigration have been contradictory. The Florida Republican backed the Senate's 2013 immigration reform bill, but now distances himself from that proposal. He has opposed the DREAM Act, which would grant conditional amnesty to some undocumented workers. Castillo says those positions initially gave him pause. 

"But I see where he's coming from, and I feel that he understands the state and the condition in which many Latino families find themselves today," Castillo says. "Obviously we know that the immigration system is somewhat broken. Actually let's not say 'somewhat.' It's broken. And it needs a lot of reform." 

Castillo says Rubio is well-suited to push through that reform because he's "realistic," and a leader who understands "we can't break laws just because."

"There's that balance we need to find," he says. "I'm trusting that he will look out not only for the best interest of Latinos, because this shouldn't be a racial conversation."