Cuban-born healthcare billionaire and immigration advocate, Mike Fernández, has set up a $5 million political fund to back candidates who support immigration reform, saying too many Americans have forgotten what the American Dream is all about.
Fernández, a former Republican who is now a registered independent, told Univision he has already started writing checks and plans to support incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson against Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott in November's highly anticipated contest for on the state's Senate seats.
His new political action committee, named 'Diversity… the Key to the American Dream PAC', was formed earlier this month with $5 million of his own money, though he plans to reach out to other likeminded immigration advocates.
“There is an incredible anti-immigration sentiment that is coming through loud and clear as if we have forgotten that we are all immigrants in this country," he said, noting that he arrived in the United States as a penniless young boy from Santiago, Cuba. "I am very aware that my success was due to the American Dream. Diversity is what makes this country thrive," he added.
Fernández, 65, has long been a big political donor. Last year, he created the Immigration Partnership and Coalition (IMPAC) Fund to advocate for the legal rights of undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes and are subject to deportation.
He backed Republican candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush in the last election. In 2016 he also threw his fianncial support behind candidates who supported President Obama's restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Fernández, dropped out of Scott’s 2014 reelection campaign for governor over "cultural insensitivity." He then left the Republican Party altogether after President Donald Trump won the presidential nomination in 2016.
He recently joined the chorus over gun control. In the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fernandez said he would not donate to candidates who support the sale of “military-style weapons."
Fernández said he hopes his cash will gives politicians "some backbone" to stand up for what is right. "I think that a small sector of politicians have turned to the ideology of those running Washington, while the rest don't have the backbone to stand up to what they know is wrong," he said. "Some people like to bet on a winner. I like to bet on the right cause."
With unemployment at 3.5% it also made no sense to be deporting undocuments immigrants who have clean records, he argued, citing the recent history of tomato growers in Georgia and Alabama who were unable to find workers to pick their crops due to anti-immigrant legislation. "We should not be hurting people who just want to be free," he said.