Darren Aquino wants only natural-born citizens to run for Congress
Darren Aquino, Casey Askar

He mentions Casey Askar, an Iraqi refugee, by name.

Naples Republican Darren Aquino said only natural-born citizens should be allowed to run for Congress.

“As an American, I want our U.S. Congressmen to have unwavering loyalties to America,” he said in a statement.

The proposal from the candidate for Congress contains an attack on primary opponent Casey Askar, mentioned by name in the release.

But Aquino said he wants the same standards on candidates for President to apply to those running for the U.S. House or Senate.

Aquino directs most of his hostility toward Democrats already serving in the country, including Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. The controversial Congresswoman was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and Aquino said she has advocated for immigration policies more helpful to refugees from her homeland than for American.

The most consequential target remains Askar, who has spent hundreds of thousands already, much of it on video advertisement that stress his own immigrant story even as he advocates for strong borders.

Askar’s family fled Iraq on his seventh birthday to escape religious persecution against Christians under Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Aquino and Askar are among 10 Republicans running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

While Aquino said he would be fine with any of Askar’s children running for Congress, he doesn’t think it’s right for someone not born an American to write the nation’s laws.

“My immigrant grandparents didn’t run for office,” Aquino said. “My grandfather ran a bodega, my other grandfather ran a candy store.”

If elected, Aquino said he will file legislation that instates the same natural-born citizen requirement as exists for President.

He said that his understanding of the law means a child of an American citizen born on foreign soil like Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican born in Canada, would still be able to serve because he was born with citizenship through his mother.

But the stipulation seems to call into doubt the eligibility of individuals on both sides of the aisle. Former Sen. Mel Martinez, an Orlando Republican born in Cuba, could not serve under the rule. Neither could Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Miami Democrat who immigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador at age 15.

But Aquino said the Founding Fathers would object to the policy in existence today, allowing individuals to come to America and earn citizenship within three to five years, then being eligible to serve in Congress seven years later.

And he imagines major world players in the future going so far as to send agents into the U.S. from countries like China and then running for office a decade later, then working for foreign interests.

Aquino brushed off suggestions the proposal could be viewed as anti-immigrant or racist. He said as a half Latino-half Italian, he faced racial slurs growing up in New York. But he said immigrants coming to America should look to make a better life for their children, not themselves.

“If someone wants to call it something, I guess they have a different motive for the country,” he said. “Mine is for the whole country. I don’t benefit from this.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Ward Posey

    May 26, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Hey Aquino, your parents forgot to educate you. Listen you low life sewer rat, we pull together as a country, not like where your parents came from, or are you a result of inbreeding like most Republicans.

  • Just sayin'

    May 26, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    As a staunch Republican, screw you Darren. Ward – get back on your meds.

  • martin

    May 26, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    As it should be. We are allowing this country to de-volve into a 3rd world, welfare cesspool. If you are not born here, you should not be able to write our laws.

  • Pam

    May 26, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    Ok, American Indians only.

    • Jim Donelon

      May 26, 2020 at 2:16 pm

      Good for you, Pam !!!!!

  • Bradley

    May 26, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Darren is 100% correct
    Our politicians should be American born

  • Jim Donelon

    May 26, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Well, the IDIOT in the White House was born in the good ole U.S.A. and look what that failure turned out to be.

    Aquino is just another, in a long long line of ,KNOW-NOTHING Republicans. To accomplish what he wants would require an amendment to the Constitution, not a vote in Congress.

    Of course, Askar is just another rear kissing Trump puppet.

    The G.NO P.is scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

  • Jim Donelon

    May 26, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    By the way, Askar has committed multiple violations of the Florida Election laws. I have the written proof and if Aquino wants it he have to make a large donation to my favorite Democratic cause.

  • John Thale

    May 26, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Darren Aquino is a RINO who made multiple contributions to ACTBLUE in 2014 (look up “Darren Aquino” individual contributions at FEC.gov). He ran for office in NY two times and failed and now he’s come to Florida as a RINO to try again. Florida can see right through you, Mr. Aquino – the only interests you have at heart are your own RINO interests.

        • Bradley

          May 26, 2020 at 8:26 pm

          Open secrets is a reliable source tho
          Who do you support?

          • Elim Garak

            May 27, 2020 at 8:19 am

            OpenSecrets is a reliable source, but it’s database is sometimes incomplete. You can clearly see from the FEC data that Mr. Aquino has donated to a Democratic candidate (or candidates). I don’t have a dog in this hunt, just wanted to help clarify that issue.

  • Geoff

    May 26, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    This is smart! People should have and raise families here and ASSIMILATE like they used to before representing the great people of this country. You do not become a true blue American overnight by learning the pledge and how to speak English. The fewer conflicts of interest we have in Congress the better!

    Americans representing Americans!

    • Bob

      May 27, 2020 at 4:38 pm

      No, you become a true blue American by waiting and getting citizenship.
      BTW, if you love the Constitution and the Founders, you think this is a stupid idea. They obviously knew about restricting offices to natural born Americans and did not think that should happen for any position other than the President. Real Constitution-protecting Americans feel the same way.

      • Alexander

        May 27, 2020 at 6:05 pm

        No. our public offices should be reserved for Americans. This is America
        If asqar wants to run in Iraq, he’s more than welcome, he my guest. But he can’t be running in America. This is America.

        • Peter

          May 27, 2020 at 7:38 pm

          Naturalized immigrants are Americans. You need to protect the Constitution, including Amendment XIV, Section 1:

          All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

  • Fred

    May 27, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Yea, why does Darren hate the Constitution so much?

Comments are closed.


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