Ted ‘Calgary’ Cruz to lead Tea Party opposition to ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration reform bill

Posted byAzBlueMeanie:

Well isn't this rich. . .

Sen. Ted "Calgary" Cruz (Tea Party-TX), was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His mother was an American and his father was a Cuban refugee to the U.S. during the Cuban Revolution. Cruz's family moved from Canada to the U.S. when he was four years old.

Cuban refugees hold a special immigrant status under the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act (1966). The law applies to any native or citizen of Cuba who has been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States after January 1, 1959 and has been physically present for at least one year; and is admissible to the United States as a permanent resident.

The news media, which treats Hispanics as a homogenous and monolithic voting bloc, rarely ever reports that immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Carribean countries resent this "Castro Express Card" special immigrant status for Cubans. Cruz is unmoved by his own family's history of immigration.

Manu Raju at POLITICO Tiger Beat on the Potomac reports today that Ted "Calgary" Cruz will lead Tea Party opposition to the "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill if it includes a pathway to citizenship. Ted Cruz v. Marco Rubio on Immigration:

The Texas freshman is sharply critical of the pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, a central part of the bipartisan bill that Rubio helped write. Cruz is weighing whether to aggressively oppose the immigration overhaul, a decision that could neutralize Rubio’s outreach to conservative activists in order to minimize their opposition.

Cruz hasn’t yet decided whether to become the face of the opposition. But if he does, the Texan could burnish his conservative credentials and establish himself as a right-wing foil to Rubio as well as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — who has expressed support for legalizing undocumented immigrants — in a potential 2016 bid.

But if Cruz were to lead the fight against the comprehensive plan, it could also spark a revolt from the large — and growing — population of Texas Hispanics who opposed his candidacy in large numbers in 2012. Cruz’s thinking will be on fresh display Monday, when witnesses testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee could be subjected to his prosecutorial style of questioning.

The Cruz-Rubio divide underscores the soul-searching within the GOP over immigration reform as Republicans continue to ask themselves: Should they soften their opposition to a comprehensive plan after witnessing a mass erosion of support from Latino voters in recent election cycles? Or should they stand firm and defeat any bill that could provide “amnesty” to millions of illegal immigrants and instead mainly demand tougher border security laws?

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So far, Cruz has yet to emerge as the chief opponent of the Senate bipartisan proposal.

For now, the firebrand Texas conservative is launching a carefully calibrated critique of the bill, calling for a focus on consensus items like border security and changes to current law that would help legal immigrants enter the country more quickly — all the while attacking the proposed pathway to citizenship for those living here illegally.

* * *

Cruz said he was still reading the bill, but if it is “conditioned” on a pathway to citizenship, it makes it “quite likely” Congress will defeat it.

“President Obama wants a political issue more than he wants to pass a bill,” Cruz said bluntly. “And I think that’s unfortunate. I think right now, the single greatest impediment of common-sense immigration reform passing is President Obama, because I think there’s a consequence of insisting on a path to citizenship: It makes it far more likely that immigration reform will be voted down altogether, and that would be a very unfortunate outcome.”

* * *

Still, he quickly added this critique: “If the objective is to pass a bill, you don’t hold the positive areas of agreement hostage to areas of sharp disagreements.”

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Asked to respond to Cruz’s assertion that points of agreement shouldn’t be held “hostage” to the pathway to citizenship, Rubio said: “He hasn’t told me that — obviously, I’ve read his public comments on it — he told me he wanted to review the whole bill.”

Rubio has positioned himself as a potential 2016 candidate who can bring together warring factions of his party, whether it’s the GOP establishment or tea party activists. And his deal making on the immigration bill could position him well in a general election, which Democrats even privately acknowledge. Meanwhile, Paul — who has sought to expand his own profile beyond his libertarian and tea party base — has floated legalizing the nation’s undocumented immigrants as one way to help the GOP broaden its tent.

But Cruz is continuing to cater almost exclusively to the tea party and activist base of his party while maintaining a purist conservative voting record.

* * *

“Every leading GOP 2016-er is supporting comprehensive immigration reform,” said one Texas Republican source who knows Cruz well and asked not to be identified. “The worst secret in D.C. is Cruz is going to run for president, and he’s going to lean in hard against immigration to separate himself from all other 2016-ers.”

Cruz and his aides strongly deny that political motives are driving his immigration stance. They argue that coming from a border state with security shortfalls means there is a demand for tougher enforcement measures to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

* * *

Last year, Cruz was losing the Hispanic vote by about 30 percent in a state where there were 4.4 million Latino voters last cycle, amounting to more than 27 percent of the electorate, according to polling conducted on the eve of the election by the firm Latino Decisions. Immigration was the second most important issue behind the economy for Latino voters in Texas, according to the firm.

In Florida, about 17 percent of voters were Latino during the 2012 cycle, amounting to about 2.1 million voters there, according to the Pew Research Hispanic Center. Rubio won 62 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2010 election victory, driven in large part by Cuban voters, according to Latino Decisions.

Indeed, both the 41-year-old Rubio and the 42-year-old Cruz are of Cuban heritage, and both rode a tea party wave to help them secure the GOP nominations in their respective Senate primaries.

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While he has so far avoided mounting much of a public push against a pathway to citizenship, Cruz did issue a statement in January calling the idea in the Senate plan “profoundly unfair” and “inconsistent” with the rule of law. Cruz warned Sean Hannity earlier this month that “legal immigrants” get “left behind” under legislation to establish a pathway to citizenship to those here illegally. And that came several weeks after Rubio had won praise from the conservative commentator for his approach to immigration legislation.

Asked last week if he was concerned that blocking the plan could hurt Republicans in future elections, Cruz demurred.

It appears that the immigration debate is about to be hijacked by a theater of the absurd between three Tea Party darlings using the debate to jockey for a run for president in 2016, none of whom, hopefully, will be elected.

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