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Rubio Joins Hispanic Radio Conference
Washington D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined the annual Hispanic Radio Conference in an interview with Nio Fernandez, Director of Latin Formats for Beasley Media Group. Rubio spoke about immigration and the record number of illegal migrants crossing into the U.S., the role played by the government in upholding freedom of speech as radio stations use social media platforms to connect with their audiences, the Biden Administration’s Ministry of Truth, on Congress’s potential imposition of a new performance fee and where the Radio Freedom Act stands, and on whether there will be a Hispanic on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
See below for excerpts and watch the full interview here.
On immigration and the record number of illegal migrants crossing into the U.S.:
“I think we have to start from the very basics, we are a nation that’s always been enriched by immigration. We need to continue to be a nation that’s enriched by immigration through a process that makes sense for America. So every year, as I speak to you right now, this year alone, a million people will become permanent residents of the United States through a process that is important, but I think is bureaucratic and broken and needs to be improved.
“I also think it needs to be reformed and modernized to reflect the 21st century. So it has to be more based on your skills, your talents, your job, the business you’re going to start, the job you’re going to fill. And not just almost entirely based on family connections. I think we also have to deal with the fact that we’ve got millions of people in this country, some of whom have been here for 20 years, they may have overstayed a visa, maybe even entered illegally but are now ingrained into our lives and have not committed any serious crimes or not committed crimes at all. And therefore, I think most Americans are looking to accommodate them. I think those two things are important. The problem is neither one of those is possible as long as we have a border situation that’s completely out of control.
“This is the first time, I think, in modern history where the United States does not control one of its borders. Today, trafficking networks control that border, and they don’t just trafficking people. They’re trafficking drugs. They are flooding our country with fentanyl. These trafficking networks in Mexico are flooding the United States with fentanyl, which is killing thousands of people in this country as a result, and destroying millions of families and their lives. So until we fix that problem, I just don’t think you’re going to have, frankly, the energy, the focus, or the political support necessary to do the things we have to do to improve our legal immigration system and to deal with the people that are not criminals and have been here a long time but are out of status.
“I hope we can do those three things, but it has to start with the first, and that is gaining the confidence of the American people that our border and our illegal immigration problem is under control.”
On the role played by the government in upholding freedom of speech as radio stations use social media platforms to connect with their audiences:
“I think the most important job the government has is to protect free speech. Free speech is hard. Most countries in the world don’t try it because of that, because it requires you to allow people the freedom to say things that you know aren’t true, that you find to be offensive, that you find to be disturbing, that you think are ridiculous. But that’s the price of free speech.
“The alternative to free speech is someone then gets to decide what is true and what isn’t, what is right and what is wrong. And sometimes that decider might be you, but sometimes it may not be you. And so I think it’s one of our most cherished rights. I think it’s one of the reasons why America has been such a creative, dynamic and innovative country, it’s because people have freedom to express themselves.
“I think the role the government should play is to protect free speech. And as long as every side, if you think what someone’s saying is not true, they should have the freedom of speech to say things that you find to be offensive and you should have the freedom of speech to counter them. But what I think becomes very dangerous is when somebody starts deciding who gets to speak and who does not and what views are true and which are not. When someone gets to decide that with government power, you are now on a very dangerous trajectory. And that’s what I fear could happen to this country if we don’t we don’t carefully monitor that.”
On the Biden Administration’s Ministry of Truth:
“[The administration] said they are now evaluating it and that’s a terrible idea. Let me tell you why it’s such a terrible idea, I’ll give you two real world examples: If a year and a half ago, I would have said that I thought that there was a chance that it’s possible, maybe even likely, that COVID originated as an accident at a Chinese lab in Wuhan, that would have been labeled disinformation. That would have been taken down by Facebook and YouTube. It would have been silenced in the media. Today, that is the consensus position of our intelligence agencies and a growing number of scientists that the possibility that this was a lab leak is at least as high as the possibility that it was naturally occurring. We may never know the full answer to it, but that’s no longer disinformation. It was disinformation at one time to say that the COVID vaccine didn’t prevent people from getting COVID. They would have said that was disinformation. Now we know that the vaccine often doesn’t prevent COVID, although it does prevent serious illnesses, it has a good job track record of preventing serious illness. I could go on and on about issue after issue that was determined to be disinformation at one time, and then a year later it turned out not to be. And so, as you can see, I think it’s very dangerous to create a government entity that’s going to go around labeling people liars.”
On Congress potentially imposing a new performance fee and where the Radio Freedom Act stands:
“I’m not a sponsor of [what you mentioned]. It’s actually not a law. It’s what they call a bicameral concurrent resolution. It’s not legislation. I’m not a co-sponsor of it. And my view of it is that local media outlets are already under tremendous pressure and competition from the sheer volume of different communication vehicles. I mean, the number of places people are getting news and information out is massive. And so it’s already creating tremendous pressure.
“The last thing I think local media outlets need is another tax or another fee that increases the cost of operating. I think it could very well lead to not just consolidation of local media outlets, but the closure. A lot of people will just walk away from that business model at some point because it just becomes cost and effective.
“I think the Radio Freedom Act would impose new taxes and fees on an industry that’s already in a lot of trouble when it comes to revenue. We’re going to lose local news and information if we keep raising costs on operation. And this is just one more cost.”
On whether there will be a Hispanic on the FCC:
“I hope so, but I don’t think it should be because they’re Hispanic. I think it should be because they’re the right person for the job. I didn’t run for president demanding that everybody vote for me because I’m a Hispanic.
“I think we have to get away from this idea that we need to hire people on the basis of their skin color or their ethnicity. And I think now what we need to do is make sure that your skin color or your ethnicity is not preventing you or preventing people from real opportunities to access that.
“We have a lot of qualified people in this country who happen to be of Hispanic descent who would do a great job at the FCC. I hope that they will be nominated for those positions. And at some point, get on there and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Now, Hispanic Americans are now a substantial percentage of our population. If any institution doesn’t reflect that, we should be asking why. And we should make sure that whatever impediments stand in the way of it are removed.
“I think it’s important that the FCC be reflective of the media ecosystem in America. You need to have people that understand all the different mediums and the intricacies of different markets, and that could very well be someone of Hispanic descent. But the truth of the matter is there are a lot of people running Hispanic media outlets today that are not Hispanic.
“My whole point to you is: Yes, absolutely, I think there should be someone that’s Hispanic on the FCC but it should be because they’re the right person for the job and because they happen to bring some knowledge, some understanding of some particular niches in the marketplace. But I’m not in favor of a quota system. I don’t think that there should be a quota system. I think we need to hire the right people for the jobs. And I think there are plenty of qualified Hispanic Americans that could certainly do a great job on the FCC.”
On reports that Hispanics and African-Americans were undercounted by the 2020 census
“I think it’s hard to judge the census in 2020 because it happened in the midst of a pandemic at the tail end. Maybe it was under-resourced a little bit. And I just think a fundamental re-examination of how to reach people in the sense, as opposed to how it’s been in the past, I think strategies that involve both door-to-door and the mail are less effective than they once were.
“I think we need to understand and do a better job. And I hope the Commerce Department will do this in the years to come. It’s sort of understanding how do we reach people, how do we reach as many people as possible. That means you have to go where they are. You have to go to whether they’re on tablets, whether they’re on mobile devices, wherever the eyeballs and the ears of Americans are in the 21st century. That’s where the census needs to be if we want to get an accurate count. So I do think the census is in need of reform, because as it’s currently structured, it’s structured for the 20th century. People don’t live like they did in the 20th century.”