Sen. Ted Cruz On Immigration Reform, Fighting The Establishment, And The Human Costs Of Illegal Immigration

Posted on January 13, 2014 | By Kathleen McKinley

I had the opportunity to have a brief interview with Sen. Ted Cruz during The Texas Public Policy Foundation Conference, in which he gave a great speech.

As my regular readers know, another of my passionate issues, along with bringing minorities into the GOP, is immigration reform. The Gang Of Eight Bill brought it to the forefront last year, it died down for a bit, and now it looks like itís back. Here are my questions to Sen. Cruz, and the last question is unrelated to the immigration issue, but it might be the most important thing he said in the interview. (emphasis mine)

Q) I have always had a somewhat different view on immigration reform than many of my fellow conservatives, although many more agree with me than the media would have you believe. One of the things that drives me insane is why we do not focus on the inhumanity of what happens to people who try to cross the border from Mexico to the United States. I have always wondered why we do not tell the stories about the tragic human costs of illegal immigration.

Sen. Cruz, you are one of the few who has done exactly that. From the floor, back in June, you talked about the deaths, assaults, and rescues of people crossing the border in Texas. You showed a chart that revealed in 2012 alone in Texas there were 463 deaths, 549 assaults, and 1,312 rescues at the border. I can only imagine what those number are nationally. Naturally, the media ignored it. I feel we should focus on the stories of the inhumanity of what people crossing the border go through (or not even survive) as they try to come here. We are letting people be exploited, assaulted, raped, and die in the desert. Then the ones who make it here are once again exploited. This is the aspect of illegal immigration no one seems to want to focus on; the tragic inhumanity of it. I thank you for trying to bring attention to it.

Now, a recent poll said that 55% of American Hispanics say they think itís more important to find a way for illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S. legally, than to focus on a path to citizenship. Even Hispanics want this. But Sen. Cruz, you say that Democrats would rather push for a path to citizenship (Amnesty), so they can have a divisive issue for the 2014/2016 elections. You have said the Democrats have no interest in giving us bi partisan immigration reform. Do you still believe that?

A) ďYes. Congress made a deal with the American people in 1987. They said we will grant Amnesty to the 2 to 3 million people here illegally, and we will secure the border and then fix the illegal immigration problem. That never happened, and it never worked, because we never secured our border, and we never fixed the problem The Gang of Eight Bill essentially has made the same promise. It says we will grant Amnesty and sometime, somewhere down the line, we will secure the border. Now we have 11 to 12 million here illegally. The Gang of eight bill gives the same promise we where given in 1987. And we all see how that worked out.

ďIn the Senate I tried very hard to propose common sense amendments that would actually fix the problem. I proposed amendments that would improve the Gang of Eight Bill. The current bill makes the illegal immigration problem only worse. In the Senate Judiciary Committee I introduced a series of amendments. One was to put real teeth in border enforcement; to actually secure the border. I proposed to triple the border enforcement, and to increase four fold the helicopters and fixed wing assets and technology. In addition, to put in place a strong e-verify in the workplace. Every single Democrats voted these amendments down.

I introduced two amendments to dramatically increase and improve and streamline legal immigration focused on high skilled workers. High Tech and high skilled foreign students study here and graduate here in engineering, science, math, and then we send them back to their own country to work. They start businesses there, when they could start business here, and create jobs. It makes no sense. The amendment I introduced would increase the numbers of temporary high skilled visas five fold. Again, every single Democrat voted it down. Why? Sen. Chuck Schumer explained why. He said the Democrats had cut a deal with the union bosses and they could not go any higher.

Another amendment I introduced was to streamline and simplify the legal immigration system. It is now an extremely complicated bureaucracy. It takes years, and itís expensive and burdensome. I proposed to end the per country caps. Actually, Mexico is hurt the most by this. It can take as long as 10-20 yrs to come into the U.S. legally from Mexico. Increasing per country caps would help with that. Every Democrat voted against it. Again, they cut a deal with the unions.

No member of the Senate is more of an advocate of legal immigration than I am. I am the son of a legal immigrant. I believe America is an extraordinary nation because we are the children of those who risked so much. The most divisive amendment I opposed in the Gang of Eight Bill was the path to citizenship to those here illegally. I oppose it because I think that it makes it profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who have waited years, and even decades to come here legally. It would only encourage future illegal immigration. No one who is concerned about a humane system would want to encourage those to risk their lives to come here illegally.

Even if you donít agree with me on the merits, I believe there are not the votes in the House for this bill to pass. I believe it is designed to fail by Democrats so they can campaign in 2014 and 2016 on this divisive issue. If they wanted to see real immigration that fixes the problems, they would remove the poison pill of amnesty, so we can have a bill that can pass.Ē

When Sen. Cruz said this to Sen. Schumer, Schumer responded, ďlet me be clear, if there is no path to citizenship, there can be no reform.Ē

Sen. Cruz thanked Sen. Schumer for his candor. Itís clear that if Schumer cannot get 100% of his bill, he will do nothing for immigration reform. Most revealing, he will do nothing for the 11 million to 12 million people here living in the shadows. So, itís not about true immigration reform to the Democrats, itís about running on an issue they themselves refuse to compromise on, where they have made promises to union bosses, and wonít consider changing this to pass an immigration reform bill that is best for the country.

Keep in mind, if Sen. Cruzís amendment had passed, the underlying work permit of the Gang Of Eight would have remained. The 11 to 12 million here living in the shadows would have been able to get a work permit, which the majority of Hispanics support over Amnesty.

That sounds like a pretty dang good compromise to me.

But itís clear that Democrats and Obama would rather have a divisive issue to run on (Amnesty), than actually fix the problem. Dividing us seems to be the overriding desire of the Democrats, in my humble opinion.

My last, unrelated to immigration reform question to Sen. Cruz, was this:

Q) Where you shocked by the push back by your fellow Republicans on what you thought was fighting for the same issue (defeating Obamacare) ?

A) Not at all. Nobody should be surprised when you are trying to change the Washington establishment, that the Washington establishment will fight back. The biggest divide is not between Republicans and Democrats. It is between entrenched politicians in Washington in both parties, and the American people. What you hear over and over again from the American people is that Washington is not listening to them.Ē