U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) during Tuesday night’s debate reiterated an argument he first made in November when he said that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and he agree on immigration. This is based on an amendment that Cruz sponsored for the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill in 2013 that took away the possibility of citizenship for illegal immigrants, but allowed legal status.
Politically speaking, in the short term, it gave the appearance that Cruz did support legal status for illegal immigrants. Cruz maintains that the amendment was a “poison pill” to show that those pushing the bill in 2013 were not interested in anything less than amnesty and full citizenship.
This does demonstrate how some votes and amendments, taken out of context, can be misconstrued. Cruz’s amendment failed, and his goal of stopping the bill was achieved.
Cruz yesterday said, “let’s have a moment of simple clarity: I oppose amnesty, I oppose citizenship, I oppose legalization for illegal aliens; I always have and I always will. And I challenge every other Republican candidate to say the same thing, or if not, then to stop making silly assertions that their records and my records on immigration are the same.”
Those familiar with his strategy in 2013 have defended Cruz.
Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show:
Look if you’re trying to follow this Rubio Cruz thing, it long ago got so deep in the woods that it’s gotten so muddled here that you’re going to be thankful for this program in not too long a time because what we do here is make the complex understandable. And I’m going to wade deep into the muck. And I’m going to go there in the weeds, I’m going to grab the essentials, I’m going to bring them out, and I’m going to tell you what it is all about.
Which is very simple. Marco Rubio was part of the Gang of Eight trying to secure amnesty and wishes he wasn’t. Ted Cruz never was and they’re trying to make it out like he was. And at the end of the day, when people go vote, people are going to remember of the two, it was Marco Rubio that was a member of the Gang of Eight and Ted Cruz that wasn’t. And that’s as complicated, or simple, as it’s going to end up being.
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said on the Howie Carr Show:
Senator Cruz stood with me. We recognized that the talking points that Senator Rubio and others were using to describe this monumental bill were not accurate. It would not do the things they said it would do. The law enforcement people opposed it viciously and vigorously. And so one of his amendments was to block citizenship, and he made it just to block citizenship for anybody who entered the country illegally, which I think is exactly right.
And of course the bill allowed for citizenship as part of amnesty, and it didn’t fix everything in the bill, and I of course voted for it, and so did he and he’s spoken for it, and he’s sort of teased or mocked the other side by saying “well, you say you want your immigration – you can have your immigration but give up citizenship.” Oh no, they wouldn’t do that. It’s humorous. He’d debate, and Ted won that debate. He lost the vote, but he won the debate.
U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) on the Sean Hannity Show also defended Cruz.
I was there with Ted Cruz the entire time as we spent weeks on the Gang of Eight immigration bill.
I was there with him when we both drafted and presented amendments trying to make this really bad Gang of Eight amnesty bill not as bad. And at no time during that process — at no moment did I ever see Ted Cruz take any action that was tantamount to saying he was embracing amnesty.
He filed amendments designed to make the bill less bad. But that didn’t mean, and that does not mean now, and never will mean that he was going to vote for that bill. He was just trying to make it less bad.
And insofar as anybody is trying to suggest that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had the same position with regard to amnesty or with regard to the Gang of Eight bill, That is absolutely false. 100% false.
Congressman Steve King (R-IA) defended Cruz on MSNBC.
As I watched that tape and the debate in that committee, and I was aware, almost up to the minute of what was taking place at the time — it was clear that Senator Cruz, if he was going to make the point and force a vote that there would be no path to citizenship and expose the objective of especially the Democrats that Marco Rubio had been swept up with — that that’s about the only way you could draft that amendment.
And then I listen to his rhetoric on that, and you want to make an argument that your amendment has the best chance of passing. Then I looked at who voted on which side of that
The border security, rule of law people voted with Ted Cruz. The pro-amnesty people voted with Marco Rubio and others, so that’s how I would characterize it, Chuck.
But at no point did Ted Cruz indicate that he was going to vote for this bill. I think what’s missing here — if Marco Rubio can assign a motive for Ted Cruz, then we also ought to look at the Gang of Eight bill and recognize that it is instantaneous amnesty, it’s retroactive amnesty — if you’ve been deported in the past, it invites people to come back to America. But also, Marco Rubio and the Gang of Eight did not address protective amnesty that is implicit in the bill. Which means that if you can get into America after that day, they don’t address that at all in in the Gang of Eight bill.
So I think that if Ted Cruz wanted to play the same game on this, he could open that whole avenue up and say that there’s going to be no enforcement going forward with the people that get into America under the Gang of Eight bill, and that’s very troubling to me.
And by the way, I’d ask people also, go read the eleven page document on immigration that Ted Cruz rolled out about two and a half weeks ago. I had some voice in that. That’s real clear, and I wish that Marco Rubio would read that document too.