The Cruz carve out on immigration reform
He may be one of the most junior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Sen. Ted Cruz's comments carry a lot of weight.
That may be because the freshman senator from Texas, who was just elected to Congress last November, won office with the help of the tea party movement, is a darling among some conservatives and is the only Republican on the panel who may have designs on the White House in 2016.
And Cruz, whose father was Cuban-born, is firmly in the spotlight as the committee begins hearings on a comprehensive immigration bill. During a committee hearing Monday, Cruz made no bones about his feelings on a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States.
"If the bill includes elements that are deeply divisive, and 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 who are here illegally, in my view any bill that insists upon that jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill," said Cruz in his most thorough remarks on the proposal since it was formally introduced last week.
The legislation, put together by a bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators, calls for an extended pathway to citizenship (10 years to obtain a green card and another three years to apply for citizenship) for most undocumented workers who entered the U.S. before 2012. Along the way, undocumented workers would have to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check. The legislation also mandates that there be no path to legality until it is determined that the U.S. border with Mexico is secure.
While polls indicate a majority of Americans support such an eventual pathway to citizenship, a vocal minority of conservatives call such proposals "amnesty."
Cruz didn't use the "A" word at the hearing, but he made it clear that any pathway to citizenship provision will doom the overall bill.
...I think Sen. Cruz has hit the sweet spot on the issue. Conservatives will back his position and it will likely prevail in the House even if it does not in the Senate. If the Gang of Ocho wants a bill, they should listen to what he is saying. I am still concerned that this administration cannot be trusted to actually protect the border. They are ignoring the thousands who are flowing across it at this time.