Cruz outflanks Trump on immigration

Watch Ted Cruz position himself to the right of Donald Trump on immigration:

Here’s the transcript of the relevant exchange, from Buzzfeed:

Ted Cruz, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Ted Cruz, via DonkeyHotey / Flickr

QUESTIONER: Both you and Donald Trump are really strong on immigration, but he supports deporting all the illegal immigrants. Are you willing to say the same?

TED CRUZ: Absolutely, yes. We should enforce the law.

Q: All?

T.C.: We should enforce the law.

Q: Ok.

T.C.: And in fact, look, there’s a difference. He’s advocated allowing folks to come back in and become citizens. I oppose that.

Q: So no citizens and all of them?

T.C.: So, if you read I have a very detailed 11-page immigration proposal that’s on my website it’s TedCruz.org. It was designed with Steve King and Jeff Sessions were the two who sat down with me to prepare it and it is enforce the law across the board.

Trump’s mass deportation plan, which he has likened to Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” (not making that name up), involves rounding up undocumented immigrants and their family members — including US-born citizens — and then allowing them to apply for the opportunity to come back through the big, beautiful door that Trump has promised to put in his big, beautiful wall. You know, the one that Mexico is going to pay for.

This immigration platform is as cruel as it is unworkable, and has been held up throughout the campaign for the Republican nomination as the gold standard for anti-Latino policy proposals. However, Trump has responded to the criticism that his plan is racist and cruel by pointing out that giving “people who are really good and outstanding and have had outstanding records” the opportunity to reenter the United State legally — after they’ve been forcibly removed, of course. In short, Trump claims that his plan isn’t actually so harsh because at least he gives immigrants the chance to come back.

That part of Trump’s plan isn’t new. The policy is called “touchback,” and it was first proposed in 2007 by former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R – TX). At the time, immigration hardliners hated the proposal, describing it as basically no different from amnesty. Now, Ted Cruz is betting that he can make a similar argument and use the touchback provision in Trump’s plan to frame him as an immigration squish. He might not be wrong.

Should Cruz win the Republican nomination, this (among many other things) will put him in deep trouble with many of the voters he needs in order to win swing states with large Latino populations like Florida and Colorado. After all, he’s committed himself to all of the harshest parts of Trump’s plan while discarding the one element Trump has held up as proof that it’s anything more than anti-Latino racism. As The New Republic’s Jeet Heer pointed out today, “To deport 11 million people and give them no way to return to the country they once lived in would amount to one of the biggest forced migrations in human history.”

But in planting his flag as far to the right as he has, Cruz will force Trump to either explain why touchback is a good idea and run the risk of alienating his rabidly anti-Latino core voters, or come up with an even more insane policy proposal to reclaim the mantle of being the most hawkish of the immigration hawks.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I greatly suspect that I’m having a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

  • Tom B

    That’s a wonderful excuse for citizenship.No way!Not in Texas!

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Excellent side step.

    Are all adopted children non-citizens if their biological father is unknown?

  • Tom B

    Women from other countries have no business creating anchor babies in America and Americans are sick of taking care of them.That’s pretty straight forward because Americans can’t afford anchor babies while the homeless and the US vets live on the streets with zero help and sleep under bridges and parks and mothers in America can’t even feed their own.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Excellent Texas side step. Do you agree that women do not count?

    You really don’t trust in your beliefs, because you do not answer questions.

  • Tom B

    Citizenship always follows the father.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I’m asking you if you agree.

  • Tom B

    Ask the SC because they already decided.Nation of Laws is very clear.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    So in that misogynic society women do not count. You agree with that?

  • Tom B

    No,they follow the fathers citizenship not the mothers.Section 212 explains that in detail.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    So much writing, and you did not answer one of my questions.

    The section you cited only mentions the father. How do we know for certain who the father is without an examination of the DNA? Why are the mothers totally discounted?

    I am one of the fathers of two children. If my husband had been born in another country, would my children be citizens? I was born in the U.S.A., and I am also their father. If you prefer to only look at biological parents, what happens when the biological father is unknown?

  • Tom B

    Minor vs.Happersett,

    The Supreme Court clearly established who was a “natural born citizen” in the case Minor v. Happersett (1874). Justice Gray thoroughly discussed the definition of “natural born citizen” in his review of the Minor case. The Supreme Court in Minor adopted the Laws of Nations definition of “natural born citizen” as being a person born in the United States to “citizen parents”.

  • Tom B

    People forget that Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in the early 1800’s that Law of Nations is part of the US Constitution and is the guide for common law in the US.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I really can’t see the leap from a court ruling about women voting has anything to do with this. I would love to hear your explanation. I also have a few questions for you:

    Are children with an unknown father not a natural born citizen even though they were born within the borders of the U.S.A.?

    The Law of Nations is an interesting book that obviously influenced at least one of the founding fathers. Could you please copy the passage that deals with “natural born citizens”? Do you feel that the Law of Nations supersedes our constitution?

  • Tom B

    Four SC decisions say Cruz nor Obama are not eligible.This one parent nonsense is getting really old with these anchor babies who are not legal candidates.Minor vs.Happersett is very clear on who is a natural born citizen and it requires two citizen parents as written in Law of Nations which the founders always used via common law.

  • Kristennsinegal


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  • 2karmanot

    “He’s advocated allowing folks to come back in and become citizens. I oppose that.” Hmmmm, let’s see if I got this right. Cruz was a latino Canadian anchor baby, who smarmed his way into America as an immigrant, but what….slammed the door after him?

  • DGT

    The right moving so far to the extreme that they no longer use dog-whistles or try to hide their true motivations has its upsides. It makes their motivations explicit.

    In the past, right-wingers have been able to deny that their anti-Latino policies were racist by saying “No, we just want to enforce the laws.” Once they were comfortable enough to advocate deporting the children of undocumented immigrants — who are US citizens, have never set foot in Mexico and may not even speak Spanish — the veils come off. Deporting these American kids is both illegal and immoral, but hey, they are brown, so it’s not like they are “real ‘Murkans.”

    The next step will be just openly advocating color swatches as immigration criteria. Anyone darker than light beige won’t be admitted, because they’re probably either Muslim or Latino — and either way, the good ol’ boys don’t want ’em here.

  • Donnalhogsett


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  • emjayay

    Just looked at the website. He actually doesn’t call for deporting everyone immediately like Trump, but only increasing deportations. And of course building a wall and “tripling” border patrol. The one-third border fence cost 2.4 billion. Estimates for a wall run about $15 billion and up.

    Republicans always want to pay trillions for walls and cops and armies, and also slash taxes on rich people and corporations while balancing the budget.

  • DoverBill

    How is either of these dweebs supposed to pivot to the center in the generals?

    Oh, now I think I get it.

    Curiousier and curiousier.

  • Trump, being all trumpy, could not fail to respond. What did he do?

    Played the birther card against Cruz.

    http://www.joemygod.com/2016/01/05/finally-donald-trump-goes-birther-on-ted-cruz/

  • Knottwhole

    If they don’t lose, I’m thinking I better leave before they make that illegal.

  • I think we know how this will turn out, if in fact the Republicans lose in the 2016 elections: They’ll blame their candidates for not being sufficiently ideologically wingnutty pure.

  • Some of them are already suggesting the use of concentration camps for any undesirables. Huckabee wants to round up all the gay people. Many GOPer leaders seem to have no problem proposing such camps for Syrian refugees and American Muslims. Trump and others have skirted open proposals to ban Islam entirely in the U.S. In July ’14, Michelle Bachmann proposed forced labor and reeducation camps for immigrant children. And just last month, Cruz joked about carpet bombing until we find out if sand can glow in the dark. (This is usually the code language for using nukes.)

    If we’re not already there in ‘final solution’ rhetoric, I’d say it’s damned close.

  • He is not only pulling up the ladder after himself, he is pouring boiling oil on the masses below. What a sweetheart!

  • My question is how soon before one of these Yahoos (with apologies to Yahoos everywhere) suggests “the final solution” to the immigration problem?

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