Senator Ted Cruz's Contradictory Position on Illegal Immigration
On March 23, 2015, United States Senator Ted Cruz of Texas gave a speech announcing that he is running for the Republican nomination for President. In his speech he said the following about illegal immigration:
Instead of the lawlessness and the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, imagine a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders.
And imagine a legal immigration system that welcomes and celebrates those who come to achieve the American dream.
Missing from Sen. Cruz’s speech was anything about how the nation should treat the illegal immigrants who are here. Sen. Cruz’s position on this point has been contradictory.
On June 19, 2013 Sen. Cruz issued a press release describing his proposed amendments to the so-called “Gang of Eight” Senate immigration bill. The bill would have provided a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, among other things. Sen. Cruz’s proposed amendments would have done several things, including creating a prohibition on federal, state, or local means-tested entitlement benefits for those here illegally. His proposed amendments also would have prevented those currently here illegally who are offered legal status under the bill from obtaining citizenship. Sen. Cruz stated in the press release: “Providing a path to citizenship undermines the rule of law and is an insult to the millions who have immigrated to the U.S. legally.” Sen. Cruz’s proposed amendments were not adopted and he voted against the bill. I am unaware of any clear statement by Sen. Cruz indicating how he would have voted on the bill if his proposed amendments had been adopted. However, his press release strongly indicates that he would have voted for the bill if his proposed amendments had had been adopted:
“I very much want commonsense immigration reform to pass, but if this bill becomes law as currently written, it will not solve the problem. Instead it will make the problem of illegal immigration worse,” Sen. Cruz said. “We must work together in a bipartisan manner to fix this problem in a way that secures the border, improves legal immigration and respects rule of law so we remain a nation that welcomes and celebrates legal immigrants. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these issues and am confident my proposed amendments will effectively address the current problems with this bill.”
Sen. Cruz stated in his press release that he is “confident my proposed amendments will effectively address the current problems with this bill.” If his proposed amendments would have “effectively address[ed] the current problems with” the bill, there does not seem to have been any reason for Sen. Cruz to have voted against the bill if his proposed amendments had been adopted. Apparently Sen. Cruz did not see any problem with the bill giving illegal immigrants legal status, so long as it would be a status less than citizenship.
Sen. Cruz’s position is contradictory. In his speech announcing his candidacy, he stated: “Instead of the lawlessness . . . .” In his June 2013 press release he stated that “[w]e must . . . fix this problem in a way that . . . respects rule of law . . . .” He further stated: “Providing a path to citizenship undermines the rule of law and is an insult to the millions who have immigrated to the U.S. legally.” But he was willing to provide legal status to illegal immigrants, short of citizenship. This also undermines the rule of law and insults not only the millions who have immigrated to the U.S. legally, but those who have stayed in their home countries while attempting to gain entry to the U.S. legally. By giving illegal immigrants legal status, even when it is short of citizenship, Sen. Cruz perpetuates and encourages lawlessness. Sen. Cruz has never explained or justified this contradiction.
Now is the time for him to do so. What is Sen. Cruz willing to do to truly protect America’s border? Is he willing to support the following proposition: Illegal immigrants should not receive any change in their status under the law beyond what is available to them under present law and present lawful regulations promulgated in compliance with present law. This excludes President Barack Obama’s unlawful dictates.
Sen. Cruz has stated that he is against a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He has also stated that he is willing to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country with a new form of legal status without a pathway to citizenship. If such a policy becomes law, how will he respond to the demands of the Democratic Party and significant portions of the Republican Party, and the class of newly legalized illegal immigrants, who will demand a pathway to citizenship? What will he tell the multitude of people in countries all over the world who are attempting to gain lawful entry to this country? What will his proposed new law state about the children of these newly legalized illegal immigrants who are yet to be born? When those children are born here, will he favor automatic American citizenship for them? If so, how will he explain this to those who are attempting to come here legally? Their future children, who are born in the country in which they are lawfully waiting, do not automatically become American citizens at birth.
It would be disingenuous for Sen. Cruz to tell us that under his plan the newly legalized illegal immigrants will go to the back of the line. As long as they get to remain in the United States legally, they will have jumped ahead of those in their home countries who are attempting legal entry. The newly legalized illegal immigrants will be able to have children born here that will be given automatic American citizenship, with rights to a multitude of means-tested welfare benefits, and non-means-tested entitlements. These children will become the anchors for future citizenship applications from their parents. These benefits will not accrue to those who remain in their countries while attempting to come here legally.
There is only one way to ensure that illegal immigrants go to the back of the line, and that the rule of law is respected. Illegal immigrants must leave the United States without any change in their status under the law beyond what is available to them under present law and present lawful regulations promulgated in compliance with present law.
Sen. Cruz is America’s last hope for a credible border. By that I mean a border that is controlled by the citizens of America, not the citizens of other countries. I mean a border that is controlled primarily for the benefit of citizens of America, not the citizens of other countries. I mean a border that is controlled by an American population that appreciates and welcomes immigrants, but only when they come here legally, and in numbers that are conducive to their assimilation into the American value system that is based on the principles expressed in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Is Sen. Cruz going to give us doubletalk about illegal immigration like all of the others who will be running for President? Is the primary problem with America’s immigration laws, or is it with the willingness of America’s government officials to enforce those laws?
It is time for Sen. Cruz to tell the citizens of America something that will allow us to look into our children’s eyes, and tell them that there is still a chance for a credible border under the rule of law. Given his contradictory position, Sen. Cruz owes this to America’s citizens, who watch in agony as their country disappears with its rule of law, and he owes this to those who have not violated our law and seek to become American citizens in conformity with present law.
Allan J. Favish is an attorney in Los Angeles. His website is allanfavish.com. James Fernald and Mr. Favish have co-authored a book about what might happen if the government ran Disneyland, entitled "Fireworks! If the Government Ran the Fairest Kingdom of Them All (A Very Unauthorized Fantasy).