Ted Cruz's very nuanced view on deportations of illegal aliens

Ted Cruz has called for building a border fence and increasing the border security force, but he has very conspicuously failed to talk about deporting illegal aliens.  Greta Van Susteren spent 20 minutes trying to pin him down on the subject, repeatedly asking Cruz whether he would deport illegal aliens if elected president.

When asked, Cruz said he would enforce existing laws.  When Greta asked him again if he would deport illegals, Cruz refused to say the word deport, curiously being evasive by asking Greta, "Well, what does the law say?"  The law of course says deport, but it is odd that Cruz does not want to say the words.

And now I think I know why.  Greta pinned Cruz down, so Cruz admitted that he would use existing Border Patrol and customs personnel to enforce the law.  Well, the Border Patrol operate only on and around the border.  They have no effect on illegals living inside most of America.  And the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service makes, or used to make, a few spot raids here and there but as a whole didn't seek out illegals in a systematic way for deportation.

What Ted Cruz seems to be saying is that the law would go back to the way it was under George W. Bush.  If law enforcement encounters illegals, or if Customs on one of its occasional meatpacking factory raids finds illegals, they will be deported.  But there will be no systematic effort like Operation Wetback to deport illegals here in large numbers.  Essentially, Cruz is hoping that with systems like E-Verify, illegals will self-deport.

This is a bit disappointing, because as I have documented elsewhere, the federal government cannot easily turn off the welfare spigot for illegals, so self-deportation will not be wholly effective.  Cruz's position, while superior to most other candidates, is still not as good as Donald Trump's, which does call for mass deportations.  It's just a little disappointing that Cruz, who is forthright on so many issues, is not more forthright on this one.

Thomas Lifson adds:

Unlike Ed, I am not in the least disappointed.  Cruz proved himself capable of dealing with a tough interrogator and sticking to language that provides no sound bites to his opponents.  And Ed missed one important point.  Cruz repeatedly stressed that securing the border is the predicate for everything else that follows.  Once people who are deported stay deported, the number of illegals resident here will decline.  And in addition to the methods Ed describes, routine law enforcement encounters, including traffic stops (at least in states that allow checks into immigration status) will lead to deportations.  People who have trouble with the law should be the priority for deportation anyway.

The scare tactic the left uses is the idea of jackbooted troopers roaming through barrios and demanding to see papers, herding poor Hispanics into detention centers and then bussing them off.  Cruz is studiously avoiding any language that could be used by propagandists to conjure up such pictures.  And in fact, such nightmarish raids would never happen.  So why feed the propaganda beast, even under cross-examination by a skilled litigator like Greta?

The expression “self-deporataion” was used against Romney to great effect.  So why should Cruz go there?  In the interest of “forthrightness”?  I thought Cruz was pitch-perfect in his consistent hewing to the line of “enforcing the law.”  That is a formulation that works for a broad majority of Americans and places the left on defensive, in favor of not enforcing the law, instead of self-righteously denouncing cruelty to poor Hispanics.

Here is the entire interview:

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