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Democrats prod Miami Republican up for OAS ambassador over immigration bill

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A 2015 bill that would have made it a felony for an undocumented immigrant who was previously deported, or facing a deportation order, to be in Florida, was a point of contention for Democrats during state Rep. Carlos Trujillo’s Senate confirmation hearing to be U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States on Thursday.

Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., challenged Trujillo’s bill during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing chaired by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Trujillo ally.

“In 2015 you authored what I would consider to be a draconian bill in the Florida legislature that would have made not complying with a deportation order a felony punishable up to 30 years in prison,” Menendez said. “Give me a sense of what you meant by that bill because when you deal with the ambassadors to these countries they’re going to know this and...some of these countries, Mexico, Guatemala and others in Central America are good partners with us at the OAS. So this is going to be a bit of a challenge and I want to hear what your intent was and how you’re going to deal with that.”

Trujillo told Menendez he would have done things differently.

“I would not have supported that bill on the floor the way it was drafted,” Trujillo said. “It was poorly drafted, it never captured my original intent. My original intent for that bill was to codify federal statue for legal reentry post-deportation, post all of due process being exhausted.”

Trujillo, a Republican and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, was announced as the White House’s appointment for OAS ambassador in October, just two months after Trump named him one of four U.S. representatives to the United Nations General Assembly. That job made Trujillo one of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s four deputies.

As OAS ambassador, the Cuban-American Trujillo would become a leading voice on U.S. policy toward Cuba and Venezuela, countries of key importance to South Florida immigrants and to Rubio, a Trujillo friend and go-to adviser to Trump on Latin America. Trujillo is bilingual and a married father of four.

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