Where does Ted Cruz really stand on immigration? (Updated)

Ted Cruz speaks during Tuesday night's debate. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Ted Cruz speaks during Tuesday night’s debate. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tussled a few times in last night’s debate, bringing into focus some of the policy divisions within the Republican Party. But do the two men really represent different factions? That depends on whether they really represent the positions they took.

No issue highlights those questions more than immigration. Rubio contributed to the 2013 “Gang of Eight” bill that would have provided for immediate legal status for illegal immigrants, although citizenship wouldn’t have been available to them until (unspecified) measures were taken to strengthen border security. Asked about that bill during last night’s debate, Rubio pledged he’d learned his lesson:

“(H)ere’s what we learned in 2013. The American people don’t trust the Federal Government to enforce our immigration laws, and we will not be able to do anything on immigration until we first prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control. And we can do that. We know what it takes to do that.

“It takes at least 20,000 more additional border agents. It takes completing those 700 miles of fencing. It takes a mandatory e-verify system and a mandatory entry/exit tracking system to prevent overstays. After we have done that, the second thing we have to do is reform and modernize the legal immigration system. And after we have done those two things, I think the American people are gonna be reasonable with what do you do with someone who has been in this country for 10 or 12 years who hasn’t otherwise violated our laws — because if they’re a criminal they can’t stay. They’ll have to undergo a background check, pay a fine, start paying taxes. And ultimately, they’ll given a work permit and that’s all they’re gonna be allowed to have for at least 10 years. But you can’t get to that third step until you have done the other two things, and that was the lesson we learned in 2013. There is no trust that the Federal Government will enforce the law. They will not support you until you see it done first.”

Unlike a number of Republicans, however, Rubio says he’s still “personally open” to allowing today’s illegal immigrants eventually to obtain citizenship. He acknowledged that “may not be a majority position in my party.”

Cruz, on the other hand, has gone to great lengths to place himself in the Donald Trump/no “amnesty” wing of the party. But Rubio claimed last night that Cruz has in fact been in favor of legalization for illegal immigrants — though not citizenship — in the past. Here’s how Cruz responded and Rubio followed up (with edits of some of the cross-talk among them, other candidates and CNN’s Dana Bash for clarity’s sake):

CRUZ: “Look, I understand Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting ‘the fireman and the arsonist because they are both at the scene of the fire.’

“He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border. And this also goes to trust, listening on to campaign trails. Candidates all the time make promises. You know, Marco said, ‘he learned that the American people didn’t trust the federal government.'”

RUBIO: “Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now?”

BASH: “Senator Cruz?”

CRUZ: “I have never supported a legalization…”

RUBIO: “Would you rule it out?”

CRUZ: “I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization. Let me tell you how you do this, what you do is you enforce the law…”

Cruz is catching it from two directions today for that last bit about “have never supported” and “do not intend to support” — the latter from folks who feel like he’s leaving the door open to changing his mind. But most of the focus is on the former statement, which is at odds with the historical record.

At issue are a series of amendments to the Gang of Eight offered by Cruz back in 2013. Among them was a provision to block citizenship — but not legalization — for those illegally present in the country at the time. Here’s what he said shortly after the fight over the bill to the Washington Examiner’s Byron York:

“‘In introducing amendments, what I endeavored to do was improve that bill so that it actually fixes the problem,’ Cruz told (York). ‘I think an overwhelming majority of Americans in both parties wants to see our broken immigration system fixed, wants to see the problem solved, the border secured, and our remaining a nation that welcomes and celebrates legal immigrants. Given that bipartisan agreement outside of Washington, my objective was not to kill immigration reform but to amend the Gang of Eight bill so that it actually solves the problem rather than making the problem worse.'”

Also in May 2013, Cruz spoke at his alma mater, Princeton University, and talked about the bill and his amendments:

“The final two amendments were, number one, the one we just talked about, a bill that provided those here illegally would not be eligible for citizenship. Now, now, it’s worth thinking for a moment about how that would operate. That’s an amendment to the underlying bill. The underlying bill from the Gang of Eight provides for legal status for those who are here illegally. It provides for them getting a temporary visa initially, and ultimately being able to get a green card, as a legal permanent resident. The amendment I introduced would not change any of that, which would mean the 11 million who are here illegally would all come out of the shadows and be legalized under the Gang of Eight’s bill. It would simply provide that there are consequences for having come illegally, for not having followed the legal rules, for not having waited in line, and those consequences are that those individuals are not eligible for citizenship.”

National Review’s Jim Geraghty highlights an exchange that day between Cruz and Prof. Robert P. George:

“Cruz continued, ‘I want to see common sense immigration reform pass. But the only way to do so is to find a middle ground, and right now, they’re unwilling to do so. And I think many of the Hispanic advocacy groups, in particular, are being played. They’re being played by partisans who want the deal to fail, because they want to use it as a campaign issue. And I hope that strategy doesn’t work.’

“George followed up, ‘If I’ve understood you correctly, you would actually grant current illegal immigrants, or at least some substantial portion of those who are here unlawfully, permanent status? Green card status? So this is not a deportation bill, proposal or self-deportation as Romney called it, or anything like that. The disagreement is about whether they should be granted citizenship, through some mechanism, through some process, not whether they should be moved from illegal status to legal status?’

“Cruz replied, ‘The amendment I introduced affected only citizenship; it did not affect the underlying legalization in the Gang of Eight bill.’

“George followed up, ‘Would your bill pass the House, or would it be killed because it was proposing “amnesty”?’

“Cruz replied,’I believe that if my amendments were adopted, the bill would pass. My effort in introducing them was to find solution that reflected common ground and fixed the problem.'”

That’s a long way from what Cruz now claims his amendments were all about: providing a poison pill to reveal the bill was all about amnesty and citizenship and making sure it died. In fact, during that Princeton appearance he made the exact opposite case:

“(W)hat I believe is happening is that citizenship provision is designed, and the White House knows it’s designed, to be a poison pill in the House [of Representatives] to torpedo the bill, because then the want to campaign in 2014 and 2016, and say, ‘see those Republicans? They killed immigration reform.'”

Now, it’s entirely possible that, like Rubio, Cruz has changed his position since 2013. If so, it would be an entirely reasonable for him to do, as long as he’s willing to explain why, as Rubio did last night. All he would have to say is something along the lines of, “When I first got to Washington” — he was elected in 2012 — “I thought I could trust my colleagues in the Congress to make sure the enforcement measures were carried out before legalization took place. I no longer believe that’s true, and that no bill can include any legalization measure until after the border has been secured.” It would be a bit cynical, since it’s highly unlikely any border-enforcement bill would pass without some kind of legalization provision, and it would box him into a bit of a corner if he were to be elected president. But at least he could claim it was just an honest change of heart. Instead, he seems to be making a dishonest case that he’s always been against legalization, when his actions and public comments from just a couple of years ago indicate otherwise.

As it happens, I tend to agree more with Cruz’s position — or at least, his position in 2013 — that legalization, but not citizenship, is in order for those illegally present here once border and visa enforcement is improved. But his apparent refusal to be honest about his past positions on the issue makes it hard for me to trust him.

UPDATE: Cruz was asked about this on Fox News last night and doubled down on his refusal to acknowledge that back in 2013 he was telling a very different story to anyone who would listen. This could become a real problem for him because he’s arguing against his own words, recorded multiple times by multiple people at the time. (When are politicians going to learn that everything is recorded, and while you can change your mind you can’t disavow what you’ve said in the past?)

Reader Comments 0

76 comments
C_Casselberry
C_Casselberry

Curiously the Cubans in this campaign "Crubio" don't mention that the number one source of immigrants today are Cubans who immigrate legally thanks to the Cold War relic of amnesty for them. 

Meanwhile, the menace from Mexico is a hollow one with net immigration having reached 0.  What does immigrate from Mexico are drugs supplied by cartels funded by Americans and our dopey "war" on drugs.

Jke
Jke

So Cruz is the same as all politicians, including Hillary Clinton. I'm surprised, amazed and disappointed. ; - )

lvg
lvg

How can sons of Cuban refugees who were fleeing  a political system stand there and try to block people who are fleeing physical oppression and possible death?

Disgusting.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@lvg Where have they said they're against legal immigration?
"Republicans oppose illegal immigration" does not equal "Republican oppose all immigration," as much as liberals insist on drawing false equivalences between the two.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@lvg Did I say "all Cubans"? Did you even know Rubio's parents came before Castro came to power? Or that Cruz's dad went to Canada first? Or are you just trolling?

Starik
Starik

@Kyle_Wingfield @lvg It's interesting that all Cubans need to do to immigrate legally is place a foot on American soil. Nobody else has that privilege. 


Republicans do not oppose all immigration, but I bet most of the Tea Party wing do.

lvg
lvg

@Starik @Kyle_Wingfield @lvg If you have high tech skills and are from India or Asia and can work for low wages, there are plenty H-B-l visas or fleeing communism -you are greeted with open arms (Tsarnaevs)but if you are fleeing oppression, your not wanted by Rubio and Cruz.


By the way Rubio's parents fled Batista and went back after Castro took over but US had no problem giving them visas.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@lvg "went back after Castro took over"

Unless you are talking about making a visit  -- and it sounds like you're implying they moved back -- this is flat-out false.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

"The American people don’t trust the Federal Government to enforce our immigration laws, and we will not be able to do anything on immigration until we first prove to the American people that illegal immigration is under control."

People do not trust the government to enforce the laws? What? So why are they discussing changing them...what good would that do if they are "right"?

" It takes a mandatory e-verify system and a mandatory entry/exit tracking system to prevent overstays." How about large penalties if they hire an illegal...I'm talking about the rights' favorite cause....big business?


If it is such a problem where is your legislation? A Repub bill? Or is it just "fear" to stir up their base? Get er done! Stop talking about it and write a bill. Can you write? Have you ever drafted a bill?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister Analysts at ADP studied the payrolls of the firms' clients, about 75,000 U.S. firms and organizations. They expected that as businesses prepared for the mandate to take effect, they would adjust their employees' schedules, limiting them to no more than 30 hours a week. Yet ADP found no overall change in employees' weekly schedules between 2013 and last year.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/08/12/no-obamacare-isnt-killing-full-time-jobs-new-evidence-shows/

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

All of our candidates are serial flip/floppers.  


Now Hillary is saying that Obamacare is a disincentive to full time employment.  Where was this common logic when she was advocating for the bill.  Most folks with a brain saw that from the getgo. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

I've updated the OP with a video from Fox News last night, in which Cruz refuses to own up to his words from the past. He keeps saying he was pointing out "the hypocrisy" of supporters of the Gang of Eight bill; he's coming a lot closer to demonstrating his own hypocrisy on this issue. 

Caius
Caius

Question for anyone who knows the answer. Most immigration plans call for forcing illegals to start paying taxes before gaining any form of legalization.  How do illegals get around paying taxes?


Yesterday I bought gas, scotch, bourbon, 2 shirts and paid taxes on each purchase.  How do the illegals get out of paying those taxes? I would sure like to know.


Now I understand that the talk is on "income taxes".  Well I retired in 2008 and have not paid federal or state income taxes since 2008. Careful planning of retirement assets is the answer.  Do I lose my citizenship because I do not pay taxes anymore?  And their are millions like me.


And then this from the March 14, 2013 Daily Ticker: "Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration estimates that 3.1 million illegal workers pay into Social Security each year. In 2010, undocumented workers and their employers paid $15 billion to Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits -- that year illegal workers only received $1 billion back."

Now I figure if employers are paying that much money into SS system they are also paying a hefty sum to the IRS. 

So the bottom line is that for the foreseeable future Congress is not going to do anything to resolve the "illegal immigration" problem. Which raises the question - Is there really a problem?



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Caius "Most immigration plans call for forcing illegals to start paying taxes before gaining any form of legalization.  How do illegals get around paying taxes?"

The argument is about federal taxes, which don't include sales taxes. And the difference between what you've done and what is discussed regarding illegal immigrants is the difference between tax avoidance (legal) and tax evasion (illegal).

Caius
Caius

@Kyle_Wingfield @Caius I noted that I understood that income taxes are at the heart of the debate. 

And the alleged 3.1 million illegals who pay federal taxes and SS/MC taxes?  Do we give them a break?  They have been paying federal taxes for years. 


Of the estimated 11 million illegals in the country what % of them are employable adults?


The point I was trying to make is that we continue to over simplify the problem because it makes for good politics on both sides of the debate.  And Congress, in it's inability or desire to fix immigration, is really saying that there is not much of problem.  We have kept the status quo since Kennedy - McCain bit the dust a decade ago.




Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Caius Partial compliance with tax law is not an option. Paying SS taxes and sales taxes doesn't absolve one from the income tax. Or shall I call my accountant and tell him things have changed? "Hey, I've been paying these taxes for years, so no need to pay these other ones!"

lvg
lvg

So did either Cruz or Rubio's parents get turned back when they escaped Castro from Cuba? Did they have valid visas and screening? should they be screened now?

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@lvg

Too late. The Cruz terrorist is already on our shores and he's been lobbing bombs willy nilly for a number of years now.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@lvg Going birther on us, huh?

Cruz's mother was an American citizen. Rubio was born in Miami to parents who later became U.S. citizens, so they would have to have maintained legal status.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Kw

The comment was towards the parents not Cruz and Rubio..

Rubio parents and Cruz father we're born in Cuba.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@BuckeyeGa I understand that. Which is why I pointed out that one of the four was already an American citizen and the others (I omitted Cruz's dad, but it's true for him as well) became naturalized citizens, which is a pretty good giveaway that they'd maintained legal status.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

I asked what he made of Rubio’s work on immigration reform. “He was for it before he was against it,” he said. “I’m an immigrant kid from the poorest parts of Vegas, and my family is touched by every form of immigration.” His brother-in-law and sister-in-law are undocumented. “This bill would have saved my family a lot of fear. You know, we still live in fear that our family is going to be torn apart.” He went on, “I’ve seen Marco Rubio give us lip service. I’ve seen him and his staff say that they support us. But then, when the spotlight is put on them, they don’t have the muscle to stand. And that’s not what we need in a President. We need someone who can stand up and stay true to what he’s said.” He added, “One of us has forgotten where we came from.”


http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/30/the-opportunist

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar Rubio said just Tuesday night he still supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, so I think we can be spared this kind of drama. He didn't have the votes in 2013.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

RUBIO: “Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now?”

RUBIO: “Would you rule it out?”

LUV'D IT!

Rubio has hidden talents. He can back his opponent into a corner in the most pleasant way, AND leaves a mark when he does so.

Hands off, Ted Cruz? Not Rubio's.

Ted's met his match with Marco. 


Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@FIGMO2

LOL. Cruz would eat Rubio as an hors d'oeuvre with his morning tea.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Regardless, if this is such an issue, where is their proposed bill? Get off the pot or sh...!


Same for healthcare.

C_Casselberry
C_Casselberry

Net immigration from Mexico to the US is zero. Drugs fund the tunnels and make Mexico a lawless land. The US' appetite for drugs isn't hindered by the "War" on drugs; however, the "War" on drugs does make the cartels in Mexico wealthy and powerful.

ByteMe
ByteMe

But his apparent refusal to be honest about his past positions on the issue makes it hard for me to trust him.


If "trust" is what  you are looking for in a politician, you're going to be very disappointed.


Better to vote for competence, at least a few positions you like, and the ability to handle the 3-dimensional chess that is our country's foreign and domestic policies.

lvg
lvg

@ByteMe Well that rules out the present GOP candidates

ByteMe
ByteMe

@lvg Not all of them, no.  I may not like them, but a few of them have a track record of competence.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@ByteMe "If "trust" is what  you are looking for in a politician, you're going to be very disappointed."

I'm not talking about blanket trust. But I think you have to feel like you can trust them on the handful of things they put at the center of their campaigns, or why bother?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

The tunnel builders that Headley thinks are so cool are not Jose and Pablo with a shovel, it is the drug cartels and human smugglers using money they made selling people and drugs in the USA.  They probably do not pay their workers a living wage either, many are probably forced to work.  If you think all that is good for Mexico or the USA you are sadly mistaken.


Cruz and Rubio both embrace the popular GOP voter position of enforcing the borders and limiting illegal immigration, while both try to outdo each other in upping the amount of H-1B visa's that can be issued.  This works against the voters they pander to and in favor of their donors.  The flood of H-1B visa's take jobs from Americans and keep American workers salaries lower than they would otherwise be. 

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

@RafeHollister Rafe, I don't ever agree with you, but I do on the H-1B issue.  I'm not that worried about a poorly educated illegal worker taking a job because those are low paid jobs that most citizens don't want because of the pay.  Why work when I can make more money from gov't handouts.  


H-1Bs affect citizens who have spent the time, money and effort getting qualified for higher paying tech jobs.  I have been at companies where the majority of the technical staff were H-1B workers.  I have known those who have had to train their H-1B replacements before they could get any severance from their layoff.  Instead of increasing their numbers we need to decrease the numbers.  With H-1B and similar visas, we are essentially training foreigners before we send them back home.  When they get home they start their own businesses and compete with us.  We are training our future competitors.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@RafeHollister

Big business will fight tooth and nail for H1b not to be affected negatively.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

I'm trying to figure which one of these would be the best choice.  Both of them have been disingenuous on this issue.  Rubio has claimed to have totally changed his mind, as he was pretty much an open borders/amnesty type guy before he started running.  An article I saw recently listed several recent immigration related bills where he continues to vote against Cruz and Paul on immigration issues.  He like Cruz comes up with some rational involving other reasons why he votes as he does.  He seems to talk a different game than the one he plays.  Not sure he can be trusted, as he seems to say whatever works at any point in time,  to accomplish his current goal.


You are correct that Cruz has morphed as well, having embraced some level of amnesty in his votes prior to getting into the race.  He has voted for some things he said he was vehemently against, again excusing his action on a strategy, that no one else understands.  Now he has the hypocrisy to say that Rubio is the weakest of the bunch on immigration.


It seems like the race is going to come down to these two guys and everyone has to decide which one is the least deceptive or disingenuous.  It seems every election, we always pick the lesser of the two evils.  The whole process is a flawed corrupt malfunction in both parties.  


Both parties make these wild promises to their bases in the primary and then slink back to the middle in the general.  Do you believe the real person is the guy/girl in the primary or the girl/guy in the general?  What a foolish process!  Now Trump has decided if you can make all these outlandish claims, you have no way of fulfilling, and still get elected,(think Obama) he can make even more outlandish claims and show them how to do it on a grand basis.  If it worked for Obama, why can't it work for me, Trump thinks.   Trump is showing how foolish all these unworkable, irrrational, and delusional campaign promises are anyway. 

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

Seemed to me the line between Rubio and Cruz was pretty clear.  Rubio favored citizenship in his bill.  Cruz favored stronger borders and, at least last night, the status quo-meaning you could deport people, but you didn't try to round them all up like Trump proposes.

Starik
Starik

The border needs to be strengthened, but the real cure is to make it possible for working class Mexicans and Central Americans enter the country legally.  We need them and they need us.

lvg
lvg

Cruz lying? Can't be.




"""Why does Cruz continue to repeat this story: “The wife is publicly pledging her allegiance to ISIS on social media. And the Obama administration caught none of that, zero. And the reason is, they are not focused on radical Islamic terrorists. We know that the female jihadist was having communications with ISIS leaders, using social media, pledging her allegiance to ISIS. And yet again, the Obama administration failed to act to prevent this terror attack."""

Days after any honest, well-informed person would have abandoned this allegation, there are only two plausible explanations for Cruz’s persistent misrepresentation. One is that he still doesn’t know the facts and hasn’t taken the trouble to educate himself. The other is that he knows what he’s saying is false, but he doesn’t care. Either scenario is damning. """ 


See Slate December 9, 2015

Lies repeated last night again.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Land beneath the US-Mexico border is beginning to look like Swiss cheese.

Two sophisticated smuggling tunnels connecting commercial buildings in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial park with warehouses in neighboring Tijuana were uncovered this week.

One 600 yard long tunnel was equipped with lighting, a crude rail system and wooden trusses. A 73-year-old Chula Vista woman was arrested for allegedly overseeing the logistics at one warehouse where the tunnel terminated.

Another tunnel stretched for more than 700 yards. It was equipped with a multi-tiered electric rail system and an array of ventilation equipment.

Seven cross-border passageways have been discovered in the same area the past four years.

http://www.inlandnewstoday.com/story.php?s=32868

Waste billions on a wall. They will just go under it.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Hedley_Lammar Tunnels work when the government is not indifferent to them.  What happened in Gaza when the Islamist in Gaza thought a few tunnels would help them import bombs and suicide bombers into Israel?  


Clue, the Israeli's eliminated the tunnels and the tunnel builders.  


Fences and walls work everywhere the fence builder puts forth the effort to make them work.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @Hedley_Lammar No they really dont.


People get out of North Korea everyday and im pretty sure they are serious about it. 


Put up a wall. Man will figure a way around, over, or underneath it. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Or as seen above they just drive right over it.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar  You left out the caption. I wonder why?

Oh, here it is: "In this photo provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a silver Jeep Cherokee that suspected smugglers were attempting to drive over the U.S.-Mexico border fence is stuck at the top of a makeshift ramp, on October 31, 2012 near Yuma, Arizona. U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Yuma Station seized both the ramps and the vehicle, which stalled at the top of the ramp after it became high centered. The fence is approximately 14 feet high where the would-be smugglers attempted to drive across the border. The two suspects fled into Mexico when the agents arrived at the scene."

Emphasis added.

C_Casselberry
C_Casselberry

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar You guys are missing the root issue. Tunnels are built to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the US not to smuggle humans into the US. Net flow of people from Mexico to US is zero. The ongoing dopey "War" on drugs funds the tunnels. If you don't want Hispanic immigrants, stop granting automatic asylum to Cubans who are now the largest group. They come into the country legally via Mexico and by boat. The asylum is an artifact of the cold war that ended in 1992...