|Ted Cruz covered a broad range of topics while visiting the region, including the current deadly conflicts happening in Syria, the US economy, and his mission to defund and dismantle "every single word" of the Affordable Health Care Act.
According to Cruz, health care should not be required by our government, but instead be achieved through hard work and economic prosperity.
Cruz cited his own father -- who lacked health insurance until finding economic success -- as a model for others, and reason for why he has challenged Congress to defund President Barack Obama's health care plan.
"More and more people are having their hours forcefully reduced," said Cruz. "Health insurance premiums are going up, and more and more employers are dropping their health insurance."
According to the 2010 census data, the Hidalgo County region, located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, has the highest rate of uninsured among urban counties, at 38.9 percent. Maverick County, also along the border, has the highest rate of uninsured among medium-sized counties, at 35.1 percent.
Hidalgo County also happens to have the lowest household income in the entire country. McAllen, the largest city in Hidalgo, has the second most expensive health-care markets in the nation.
And here is Ted Cruz preaching to these very same people that they have to earn a right to their health. That access to adequate healthcare is not a human right, only rich people deserve good health.
Later in the afternoon, Cruz visited the actual border while on a short boat tour on the Rio Grande.
Cruz spoke about immigration reform, calling the current system "broken." Instead of proposing any constructive ways to solve the problem, Cruz re-stated his opposition to proving a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in the country.
"We've got to get serious about securing the border, about solving the problem of illegal immigration," Cruz said after visiting with landowners and the Border Patrol.
But what do people in the Rio Grande Valley think of Cruz?
"Through the entire Senate immigration debate, the senator never once visited the Valley," says John-Michael Torres, Coordinator of Communications at La Union del Pueblo Entero. "He is having town halls throughout the state, but won't have a public event here. Why is he treating Valley families as unworthy of his time?"
"Senator Cruz's father gained citizenship in 2005. Yet he wants to keep our parents from gaining their citizenship," Torres further argued. "Valley immigrant families need the same opportunity to become citizens. Providing equal rights to Valley immigrant families is the compassionate thing to do. It is the right thing to do. The senator continues to oppose equal rights for our families through his opposition to a path to citizenship."
"Tripling Border Patrol, constructing more border wall and increasing drone surveillance treats Valley communities as if we are second class citizens without the same first and fourth amendment rights as the rest of the nation. Senator Cruz seems to care more about the welfare of defense contractors than the freedom of residents along the border," said Torres.
Ted Cruz's visit to the Valley reminded me of that scene in the movie Mean Girls, where students are gathered at the gym in order to attempt to solve the school's gender divisive issues, and one of the main characters, Damien, points out that one of the girls speaking doesn't even attend the school.
"She doesn't even go here!"
Only in the U.S. would a candidate with Cuban, Italian, and Irish ancestry, born in Canada to an American mother, run on a platform against immigration reform and be taken seriously. Running against the very same opportunities that allowed his family to achieve prosperity in this country and allowed him to become the first Texas Hispanic U.S. Senator. And, even one day, to run for president.
Yet the Hispanic community in the Valley knows Cruz doesn't actually truly represent them. Having grown up and lived in the Valley my entire life, "sell out" was but the nicest way anyone there would begin to describe someone like Cruz.