In late January, Speaker John Boehner sent out Republican “principles” for immigration reform. There was a lot of hubbub and hope when he did so, because it looked like a bill was near. It looked like the only significant legislation Congress would pass this entire year, but it was something.
And then along came Ted Cruz. He blasted his own party's plan as “amnesty” in an interview, and from that point forward Republican movement on a bill came to a halt. “After that it was 'We'll get back to you on immigration reform,' ” said one Republican congressman to Hearst Newspapers.
Could it be? More below the jump.Cruz dismissed the suggestion when asked, but he didn't really deny it: “I understand that a lot of folks in the press want to focus on the Washington politics of it all,” Cruz said. “I think most Americans could not care less about a bunch of politicians in Washington.”
He also doubled down in a way that somehow conveys a smirk through words: the nascent bill was “inconsistent with the rule of law,” “a political mistake,” and that he was “glad to see Republicans in the House agreed.”
In December, Cruz has called stopping immigration reform this year a “great opportunity”. That's what Cruz was getting at when he said the GOP push was a “political mistake” — he doesn't think Republicans would benefit enough at the ballot box. Look at this exchange with reporter Michael Berry:
BERRY: Amnesty, illegal immigration, an immigration reform plan. We're hearing that Boehner has punted that until after the Republican primary to save the squish Republicans from Tea Party challenges. True?
CRUZ: You know, I don't know. I certainly hope the reports that you and I are both reading are not true. You know I think we've got an incredible opportunity to retake the Senate in 2014, to retire Harry Reid as Majority Leader. And the number one thing Republicans could do to mess that up is to refuse to stand for principle. And if the House turns around and passes a giant amnesty deal that doesn't secure the border and grants amnesty, they might as well go and put “Harry Reid for Majority Leader” bumper stickers on the backs of their cars because it would be kicking conservatives, kicking the Tea Party, kicking millions of Americans in the teeth to make that same mistake again, so I sure hope they don't do it.
Forget the millions of undocumented people suffering because of an immigration system that keeps them in the shadows, abused by employers and living in constant fear. The problem is not that, but a system that ignores the twin problem of an overly harsh legal immigration process and millions of people living a country that ignores its undocumented. Cruz didn't only scuttle the GOP's effort; he scuttled immigration reform hope because he doesn't want to see more Harry Reid bumper stickers.
It's so, so craven.