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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A wealthy South Florida businessman, who has donated big money to political candidates in the past, is digging into his pocket once again.
This time billionaire healthcare mogul Mike Fernandez is helping undocumented immigrants facing deportation.
“I happen to be an immigrant and at one time I was an undocumented immigrant,” said Fernandez who knows what it’s like to hide in the shadows. “When I came from Cuba and I was taken out of the country by the Catholic Church, I was left in Mexico. I didn’t have a passport or an ID. Neither did my dad or my mom.”
Fernandez built a healthcare empire and lived the American dream. But he feels President Trump, who wants a border wall, and stepped up deportations, is unfair to undocumented immigrants who come to this country to work and make a better life for their families.
He believes immigrants are part of the fabric of America. That’s why he’s cut a half million dollar check to groups that protect non-felon undocumented immigrants facing deportation.
“These are our neighbors; their children go to school with our children. A lot of people talk, I have a reputation for putting my money where my mouth is,” he said.
Fernandez told CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez he’s collecting money from wealthy friends, and is pledging at least five million dollars of his own money.
“What do you tell people who say illegal immigrants are breaking the law and should be sent back?” he asked. “Well to what extent are they breaking the law? Do you send me to jail for illegal parking or for running someone over and leaving the scene? Most immigrants don’t run anyone over. Most of them come to do the jobs we don’t do,” he said.
Fernandez said he knows he going to be accused of encouraging illegal immigration.
“I am going to be accused of bringing the next generation of Americans to America and I happen to be one of them,” he said.
Fernandez’s fund is called IMPAC, which stands for the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund.