Senators on the Judiciary Committee heard testimony from immigration witnesses yesterday. They are considering a bipartisan bill written by eight senators that would allow green cards for undocumented immigrants after 10 years in the U.S. And it would be another 8 years before they could use federal health care benefits. It's a very harsh bill; co-author Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is even bragging about how it creates an even more burdensome system for undocumented immigrants.
But the bill does give America's 11.1 million undocumented immigrants an eventual, though delayed path to citizenship – and Ted Cruz won't stand for it. “I would note that I don't think there is any issue in this entire debate that is more divisive than a path to citizenship for those that are here illegally,” Cruz asserted during the hearings yesterday. “In my view any bill that insists upon that, jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill.”
Speaking to Politico earlier this week, Cruz said the bill has some good elements but “[i]f the objective is to pass a bill, you don't hold the positive areas of agreement hostage to areas of sharp disagreements.” Fair enough, but Cruz hasn't offered any compelling reason why the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States should be denied a pathway to citizenship. He's said only that it would be “inconsistent” with the rule of law. But under the current system, we have no systematic way of dealing with undocumented immigrants, leading to “amnesty” for millions of people. Though he says he wants to make the legal immigration system more efficient, he actually offers no solutions for how to handle undocumented immigrants.
Read more below the jump.There is massive public support for legalizing undocumented immigrants. It is both the economic and humanitarian right thing to do. People should not be unduly punished for peaceably coming into our country to seek opportunity, and they definitely should be given a pathway to citizenship that is fair and measured.
An interesting tidbit also came out of that Politico piece. “Every leading GOP 2016-er is supporting comprehensive immigration reform,” a Texas Republican source “who knows Cruz well” and asked not to be identified told the publication. “The worst secret in D.C. is Cruz is going to run for president, and he's going to lean in hard against immigration to separate himself from all other 2016-ers.”
That explains Cruz's purely ideological position. Rubio is already trying to explain away the bill to Republican talk radio, and he'll have to make it palatable to an increasingly extreme Republican base in 2016. It's one of those issues that would help him somewhat in the general election, if only he can get out of a primary. If Cruz wins that primary debate against Rubio and other contenders, he may be the nominee, or so he appears to think.
Watch Ted Cruz at the hearing yesterday: