U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio took to the floor of the U.S. Senate this afternoon ostensibly in support of an omnibus immigration reform bill that he co-authored but really to talk about the immigrant experience. The Miami Republican spoke evocatively of his parents, two impoverished and uneducated Cuban immigrants who worked at a factory building aluminum chairs, tended bar and -- after they earned enough to buy a house near Miami's Orange Bowl -- "on Sunday they made a little money letting fans park on their lawn.
"This is not just my story. This is our story. It reminds us that we are “E Pluribus Unum.” “Out Of Many, One,'"said Rubio, who transitioned into the end of his speech by quoting the Emma Lazurus poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty.
"For over two hundred years now, they have come. In search of liberty and freedom, for sure. But often simply looking for jobs to feed their kids and the chance of a better life.
"From Ireland and Poland, from Germany and France. From Mexico and Cuba, they have come. They have come because in the land of their birth, their dreams were bigger than their opportunities.
"Here they brought their language and their customs. Their religions and their music. And somehow, made them ours as well. From a collection of people from everywhere, we became one people. The most exceptional nation in human history.
"And even with all our challenges, we remain the shining city on the hill. We are still the hope of the world.
"Go to our factories and fields. Go to our kitchens and construction sites. Go to the cafeteria of this very Capitol. There, you will find that the miracle of America still lives.
"For here, in America, those who once had no hope, will give their children the life they once wanted for themselves.
"Here, in America, generations of unfulfilled dreams will finally come to pass.
"I support this reform.
"Not just because I believe in immigrants, but because I believe in America even more."
Here's the entire speech, as prepared for delivery:
My father had a rough childhood. His mother died just four days shy of his ninth birthday. The small catering business his parents had run together had collapsed, and so as a young child he had to leave school and work. He would work for virtually the rest of his life.
My mother grew up just as hard. Her father was disabled by polio as a child, and he struggled to provide for his seven daughters.
My parents met at a small store where my mother was a cashier and my father a security guard. He actually lived and slept in the storage room of the store.
Like all young couples, they had dreams. My mother wanted to be an actress. My father tried hard to get ahead. After work he took a correspondence course to become a TV and radio repairman, but it was hard because he barely knew how to read.
They did everything they could to make a better life. But living in an increasingly unstable country, with limited education and no connections, they just couldn’t.
And so they saved as much as they could and on May 27, 1956, they boarded a plane to Miami. They came to America, in search of a better life.
Like most recent arrivals, life wasn’t easy in America either. My father had someone phonetically write on a small piece of paper the words: “I am looking for work.” He memorized those words. They were literally some of the first words he learned to speak in English.