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State, national columnists

Cruz gets border crisis wrong

By From page A11 | July 31, 2014

SAN DIEGO — Ted Cruz doesn’t “get” immigration. Nor does he understand the need to give due process to refugees.

This is clear now that thousands of children from Central America have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

I’ve known the senator from Texas for a dozen years. He’s scary smart. Yet on immigration and asylum – where one would expect him to bring his A-game because his father, Rafael, emigrated from Cuba in 1957 – Cruz doesn’t sound smart, just scary.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cruz blamed the crisis on “the failures of (President Barack Obama’s) immigration policy and his lawlessness.”

The president’s immigration policy has caused the deportation of 2 million people. You don’t get much more law-and-order than that.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Cruz accused Democrats of “holding these kids ransom” to pass a Senate immigration bill that he called “one of the causes of this problem.” He said kids are coming “because they believe they will get amnesty.”

The Senate bill would grant legal status to about half of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States – but doesn’t cover new arrivals.

It’s true that many of the children told authorities that they thought they would get a “permiso” (permit) to stay in the United States. The White House insists that smuggling cartels planted the rumor to gin up business. By charging about $8,000 per child to transport at least 57,000 kids across the border, smugglers could have conceivably earned more than $450 million.

Cruz isn’t blaming the cartels. He’s blaming Obama. However, my sources familiar with the border crisis say that some kids claim the rumor was that “Congress” had passed an amnesty. So why isn’t Cruz blaming House Speaker John Boehner?

In trying to solve the border crisis, the senator mixes together three unrelated things: the DREAM Act, which offered undocumented youth legal status if they went to college or joined the military and which was defeated in December 2010; a 2008 anti-human trafficking law, signed by President George W. Bush, that lets undocumented minors from Central America live with relatives in the United States while awaiting a hearing; and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a 2012 policy change by the Department of Homeland Security that lets undocumented youth brought here as children avoid deportation and apply for work permits. DACA, like the Senate bill, would not apply to the child refugees.

It’s apples, oranges and bananas. Yet for conservatives, it’s all one anarchic fruit salad.

Veering off course, Cruz has introduced bills that would prevent the Obama administration from expanding DACA, change the 2008 anti-human trafficking law, provide resources for state and local governments, and empower border states to send the National Guard to the border.

Seriously? So the way to get children to stop coming here is to punish 20-somethings who have been here for years?

Behold the Republican agenda. They never liked DACA, and they’re opportunistically using the border crisis as an excuse to kill it.

Yet, those dots don’t connect. Check the timeline. Texas Gov. Rick Perry claims that he sent Obama a letter warning about a larger-than-normal flow of Central American minors coming across the U.S.-Mexico border back in May 2012. But that was a month before DACA was unveiled.

So the kids were coming – before the change in policy that Cruz insists promoted them to come.

The senator’s fast-and-loose approach to the immigration issue will hurt him if he runs for president. A Hispanic Republican strategist recently told me that, as badly as the GOP has done with Hispanics in recent elections, it could do more poorly in 2016 if Cruz is the nominee.

Mitt Romney got 27 percent of the Latino vote in 2012.

“If Ted is the nominee,” the strategist predicted, “he’ll get even less of the Hispanic vote than Romney got.”

This sounds about right. The low-water mark for Republicans is Bob Dole, who in 1996 got a paltry 21 percent of the Latino vote. Cruz could do worse. Whereas Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could make inroads with Latino voters, Cruz would probably end up roadkill.

As someone whose community has entered the United States on a red carpet thanks to that Cold War relic known as the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cruz ought to tread lightly with immigrants and refugees.

Instead, he comes across as Cuban-American royalty telling less worthy peasants from Mexico and Central America to eat flan.

Ruben Navarrette is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Reach him at [email protected]

Ruben Navarrette


Discussion | 8 comments

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  • DanielJuly 31, 2014 - 7:06 am

    We can't afford to parent, raise and support other countries children. Those countries parents and government need to learn when they have kids it's a parents and that countries duty to support and raise them and nit foreigners

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  • patrickJuly 31, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    RUBEN ---One question. Where did this illegals get $8,000 to pay the smugglers?

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  • You're out.....July 31, 2014 - 1:20 pm

    Way to deflect, Rueben--calling them refugees instead of illegals. Strike one. Next, calling Obama's deportation of 2 million illegals as law and order is because of what's on the books now, not what he has decided on his own to enforce, such as DACA and whatnot. Those were his policies. Strike two. You say Gov. Perry sent a letter to the president a month before DACA went into effect, warning about the kids coming. However you forget to mention that in the previous year, Obama had been directing various federal agencies to advertise benefits for those that get to the country and have relatives here. Strike three. After reading your column for the last several months, I'm amazed that you're still picked up in papers, or maybe it's the publishers that don't bother fact checking..... Now we know why it's the lame stream media.

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  • M. QuesadaJuly 31, 2014 - 1:43 pm

    It is obvious that the author here is sympathizing with this group because he himself probably fits that demographic. It appears he too is clueless about what's really going on in the border. The bottom line is that these illegals broke the law and should be dealt with according to whatever the intended official practice is. Perhaps he should open his home and wallet up to take care of these people. Confuse a liberal, use common sense and logic.

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  • patrickJuly 31, 2014 - 2:16 pm

    " Confuse a liberal, use common sense and logic." ------------- M QUESDSA obama minions lack common sense and logic. THEY SIMPLY FOLLOW.

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  • CD BrooksJuly 31, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    Patrick, I'm going out on a limb here but you don't exactly appear to have a grasp of common sense and logic? Maybe a lean to the left will help correct that problem.

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  • JimboJuly 31, 2014 - 3:07 pm

    It apparently thinks 5 year olds at the border are what is wrong with 'merika.

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  • JimboJuly 31, 2014 - 2:55 pm

    He and that Palin need to go get a freaking job and stop being the sponges to society that they are.

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