Can Cruz close the welfare spigot enough to make illegals self-deport?

Self-deportation was the mantra of the Mitt Romney campaign.  At the time, it was seen as a kinder and gentler alternative to forcibly deporting illegal aliens, because even Republicans became afraid of being supportive of enforcing our immigration laws, for fear of being viewed as cruel or heartless by the liberal media.

The politics has moved in four years on the Republican side to the point where we have three kinds of candidates: Trump, who calls for mass deportations, à la Operation Wetback; nearly everyone else, who calls for no deportations and varying states of legalization; and Ted Cruz, who calls for tightening E-Verify and cutting welfare to persuade illegals to deport themselves (with the exception of "criminal" illegals who will be deported, which confuses me, because all illegals, by definition, have committed a criminal act).

We are already quite familiar with Trump's position, and the position of the other candidates doesn't really merit any analysis, but Ted Cruz's plan does.  The question is, can he make it difficult enough for illegals to get jobs and social services to make them want to go home?

E-Verify is a good idea, but employers can help illegals avoid getting caught by the system:

GAO pointed out that E-Verify cannot detect when an employer is actually helping an employee skirt the law.

For example, the GAO noted, an unscrupulous employer may provide ineligible workers with legitimate documents – or the employer may ignore photo mismatches.

“ICE officials in Arizona told the GAO that employers have learned that the photo matching tool accepts only two documents—permanent resident cards and employment authorization documents [work permits], which are heavily protected from tampering and counterfeiting. Unscrupulous employees therefore may ask potential employees who would otherwise fail verification to provide other forms of ID – such as a driver’s license – that will not trigger the photo-matching tool.

So I think E-Verify is good, but only up to a certain point.

What about welfare?  The problem is, much of it is outside the federal government's control.  Take primary education, for example.  If illegals couldn't send their children to schools, no doubt many of them would go home. But in Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court required schools to educate illegal alien children.  Education is run by localities, not the federal government; it is beyond the control of the federal government.

Cruz talks about ending support for "sanctuary cities," but by that he means cities who won't turn over identities of illegal aliens stopped by the police.  This does not refer to illegals getting a free education.  Similarly, free medical care for illegals in hospitals and clinics is also beyond the control of the federal government.  There is little a President Cruz could do to stop it.  Remember: we have states that are even giving free college tuition to illegal aliens, including California and Texas.  Is a President Cruz really going to be able to cut off all funding to these states as punishment?

A President Cruz can certainly make sure illegals aren't getting Social Security and Medicare and other federal programs.  But his ability to influence state and local support for illegals is limited; there are so many localities helping illegals that defunding them all simply is not politically possible.  Congress would never pass such a bill.

I think Ted Cruz's plan has some merit.  Beefing up E-Verify will make it somewhat harder for illegals to get jobs, and he can make it more difficult for illegals to get some forms of welfare.  That and a less welcoming rhetorical climate for them will encourage some illegals to leave.  It's a far better plan than most of the GOP candidates, but not nearly as comprehensive as Donald Trump's mass deportation plan.

This article was written by Ed Straker, senior writer of, the conservative news site.