Earlier this week, Jeb Bush took a softer stance on undocumented immigration. “Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony,” he said. “It’s an act of love, It’s an act of commitment to your family.”
But Ted Cruz is not feeling as compassionate. “We’re a nation of immigrations, we need to celebrate that,” he told CNN. “But at the same time, rule of law matters.”
Like many other anti-immigrant Republicans, Cruz’s focus is on border security rather than fixing the broken system. In fact, Cruz has argued that Republicans should not even begin debating the issue of immigration reform until 2015, despite the fact that there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and his current position would provide no solution other than deportation.
In January, Cruz planted himself even farther right than the House Republicans on immigration. In response to their plan that would have provided a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants, Cruz said, “I think it would be a mistake if House Republicans were to support amnesty for those here illegally.”
But he doesn’t have a better solution, and doesn’t even really want to talk about it yet. Cruz has called on the Republican party to wait until 2015 to debate immigration reform, claiming that Republicans might control the Senate in the next Congress and could have more sway. But it’s more likely that he just doesn’t want to vote on immigration before the presidential election.
We’ve seen time and time again that Republicans have a major Latino problem. But Cruz thinks passing immigration reform would actually hurt the Republicans’ chances with voters by being too liberal:
“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.”
It’s unclear which is more disturbing – that Cruz thinks Republicans will alienate voters by passing immigration reform, or that Cruz is so open about his political motivations for delaying a substantive debate on immigration.