Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who’s been in office almost 15 months, has become quite the flame-thrower.
He accused President Obama this week of trying to undermine bipartisan immigration reform efforts so the president could exploit the issue in next year’s mid-term elections and in the 2016 presidential election.
“His behavior concerning immigration leads me to believe that what he wants is a political issue rather than actually to pass a bill,” Sen. Cruz told the Dallas Morning News. “What he wants is for the bill to crater, so he can use the issue as a political wedge…”
President Obama has been far from masterful on immigration reform and should have been more of an advocate for it during his first term. But he’s smart enough to know that comprehensive immigration reform, which has eluded Republican as well as Democratic presidents, would be a tremendous accomplishment. A bipartisan group of senators — the so-called Gang of Eight — is in the process of crafting legislation from a framework that includes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants along with measures to strengthen border security, bolster employee verification programs and attract highly-skilled immigrants
If anyone is trying to scuttle their progress, it would be Sen. Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who is less inclined than some of the more enlightened members of his party to appreciate the importance of compromise.
Sen. Cruz, who is one of just three Latinos in the U.S. Senate, wants nothing to do with a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, likening it to amnesty and condemning it as unfair to legal immigrants.
It isn’t entirely fair, but it’s far more realistic than either mass deportations or erecting arbitrary bureaucratic barriers that would prevent illegal immigrants from becoming citizens for decades, if ever. That’s no solution.
Sen. Cruz at least is consistent. His recent criticism echoes remarks he made about a month ago when the White House leaked parts of an immigration proposal that would, among other things, grant illegal immigrants permanent residency. The White House took heat from all quarters for that gimmick, backed away and soothed tensions with the bipartisan committee.
President Obama has since been generally careful to limit his remarks to encouraging committee members to keep at it. That would be a productive stance for Sen. Cruz as well.