May
2

Ted Cruz, the Anti-Rubio Who Is Determined to Stop Immigration Reform

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Ted Cruz On immigrationThree weeks after he was elected to the Senate, Ted Cruz delivered a speech in a dimly lit downtown Washington hotel ballroom addressing the thumping his party had sustained at the ballot box, particularly at the hands of Hispanic voters.

The issue is not, as the media would suggest, 100 percent about immigration,” the Texas senator told the banquet of conservatives, deriding the press corps’s “obsessive” focus on that issue.

“I think Republicans need to remain a party that supports securing the border and stopping illegal immigration and at the same time welcomes and celebrates, champions legal immigration,” he continued, to thunderclaps from the favorable audience. “It ain’t the answer just to suddenly talk about immigration and forget everything else. I’m going to suggest instead a different path.”

Just as the immigration debate is heating up—and Cruz’s own potential presidential aspirations are coming into sharp focus—the 42-year-old Cuban-American is now looking to make good on his word.

No Republican senator has been a more audacious opponent of the bipartisan approach to immigration than Cruz. And being a freshman who has been a part of the seniority-driven chamber for less than four months makes the play even bolder.

“In my view, any bill that insists upon [a pathway to citizenship] jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration-reform bill,” Cruz told the Senate Judiciary Committee in no uncertain terms last week.

Of course, that’s the central tenet of the legislation—pitting him squarely against the bill’s chief sponsor and fellow Hispanic, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, also a 2016 presidential contender.

If Rubio is set to become the vaunted hero if the compromise holds, Cruz will be remembered, for better or worse, as the wrecking ball if it crumbles

Even as Rubio has doggedly tried to frame the package as a “border security” bill—complete with new technology to beef up surveillance of high-risk sections of the 2,000-mile Mexican border—Cruz has sliced it up as yet another government boondoggle filled with false promises.

The Tea Party favorite notes that a mere 58 of the bill’s 844 pages address the border-security component and says the proposed security triggers that will be used to legalize new citizens lack real teeth. “There are no objective metrics in place to ensure any triggers in this bill will be meaningful,” Cruz said after a hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

One political adviser to Cruz explained that while the senator has refrained from a full-frontal shelling of immigration reform, it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever get to a place where he can vote “aye.”

If Rubio is set to become the vaunted hero if the compromise holds, Cruz will be remembered—for better or worse—as the wrecking ball if it crumbles.

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