Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz failed to knock out problematic provisions in the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill Tuesday, but not before warning that the bill could make immigration worse.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s mark-up, Cruz said the immigration reform bill might encourage a less-than-humane outcome for those attempting to immigrate to the United States illegally.
“In my opinion, the current bill does not fix the problem, which Republicans and Democrats across the country want to fix: our broken immigration system,” Cruz said. “This bill may well make the problem worse. It may well incentivize further illegal immigration, which means further human tragedies, further lives lost, further families broken up, further women and children victimized by coyotes and sex traffickers. And that is not a humane outcome. That is not an outcome that I know anyone on this committee wants to see happen.”
Cruz noted the legislation also lacked elements to encourage “high-skilled” immigrants, which would be beneficial to the U.S. economy.
“Secondly, the senator from Arizona [Republican Jeff Flake] made a point about having an opportunity to become a citizen,” Cruz continued. “And I think anyone can have an opportunity to become a citizen, if they come here legally. And one of the ways to ensure that is by expanding and improving legal immigration, creating legal avenues for those who want to seek the American dream to come here. I’m the son of an immigrant who came penniless at age 18 not speaking English and seeking the American dream. And that is our legacy as a country. And I would note that this committee voted down my amendment to increase high-skilled legal immigrants. And I think we should be more welcoming of legal immigrants to allow those who want to come here to work hard, to create jobs, to make our economy stronger, to do so.”
However, he saved his harshest criticism for the bill’s proponents that were not willing to separate immigration reform from a path to citizenship. The legislation could lack support Cruz argued without doing so. But those working on the legislation have seemed unwilling to recognize that.
“But third, my friend from New York in responding had a statement that I thought was very interesting, and I wrote it down. He said, ‘If we don’t have a path to citizenship, there is no reform.’ And I don’t disagree that it has been to date the position of the proponents of it bill. I don’t agree with that position. And I would suggest to the millions who want to see our immigration reform fixed that position should be very troubling because what that position is saying is that, if the votes are not present in Congress for a path to citizenship, that the Senate is prepared to say, ‘We will do nothing to secure the borders. We will do nothing to improve high-skilled immigration. We’ll do nothing to increase legal immigration and we will do nothing to bring the 11 million who are living in the shadows out of the shadows.’”
“Now, I would suggest to all of those who passionately want to see this program fixed, that’s saying ‘it’s all or nothing,’ ‘if there’s no path to citizenship,’ quote, ‘there is no reform,’” he continued. “Tying immigration reform hostage to a path to citizenship is not a strategy to pass a bill. It’s a strategy to create partisan division. It is a strategy that may well result in more political battles. But it’s not a strategy to fix the problem. And so I would urge everyone in this committee to roll up our sleeves and fix the problem in a humane way that secures the border, gets serious about fixing that problem, that expands and improves illegal immigration and that does not unfairly treat illegal immigrants by removing a path to citizenship but allowing as this legislation does legal status for those who are here illegally. That would be reform that a great many people across this country, both Republican and Democrat, would embrace. And I would urge the committee to consider the amendment.”