By Ross Kecseg~
Recent policy critiques of Sen. Ted Cruz continue to come from both political sides, often times regarding different issues but for the same reason; he is viewed by Americans as the ‘prototype politician’. Even Democratic strategist and former Bill Clinton adviser James Carville referred to Cruz as “the most talented and fearless Republican politician I’ve seen in the last 30 years”.
Recently, we have seen a wide-range of policy critiques of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) coming from both sides of the political aisle. These criticisms are often on different issues, depending on the critics personal political beliefs, but each attempts to portray the junior senator through an unflattering and distorted prism. Whether the goal of the critic is try to discredit the senator is intentional or not, the fact remains that these attacks are often full of distortions and flat out falsehoods.
An article titled, “One State, 2 Senators, 2 Views on Immigration, and One Push for Big Government”, written by Alex Gonzalez, sharply criticized the policy positions of the junior Senator as contradictory in regards to his campaign commitment to solution-focused, limited government immigration policy.
To begin examining the mischaracterizations in Mr. Gonzalez’s piece, one should first look at the recent “Gang of Four” letter (from Sens. Cruz, Grassley, Sessions, Lee). This letter focused on several key areas not sufficiently addressed in the infamous “Gang of Eight” bill. It very succinctly spells out the problems in the bill as problems that do not work to fix our current and broken immigration system. The complaints are as follows;
HYPERLINK to letter, source: http://www.cruz.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=342980
– Provides immediate legalization without securing the border
– Rewards criminal aliens, absconders, and deportees and undermines law enforcement
– Contains extremely dangerous national security loopholes
– Facilitates fraud in our immigration system
– Creates no real penalties for illegal immigrants and rewards them with entitlements
– Delays for years the implementation of E-Verify
– Does not fix our legal immigration system
– Advanced through a process predicated on a deal struck before markup
– Rewards those who have broken our laws by offering a special path to citizenship
The claims below are several of the positions made in Mr. Gonzalez’s op-ed that either misrepresented the immigration policy debate entirely or Sen. Cruz’s policy positions as enunciated in the “Gang of Four” letter.
Claim: The two different views by the two senators from Texas is clear indication that this is more about Tea Party political irrational fixation with immigration, and less about policy. And this fixation at its core is a push for government enlargement by Sen. Cruz.
Sen. Cornyn and Sen. Cruz both submitted proposals that would substantially increase border security personnel and resources. Cruz went further by requiring adherence to existing federal law including “the completion of the fencing and biometric entry-exit system”. The idea of enforcing existing federal law as a pre-requisite for enacting new law is consistent with the principle of limited government. In other words, how can we expect to effectively legislate and enforce new laws when we are not enforcing laws we already have in place? The simple answer is we cannot. In regards to reforming government to limit the size, scope, and extent of its power, should we start with expenditures dedicated to the exercise of explicitly constitutional federal authority such as immigration, or the endless list of those with dubious and minimal constitutional foundations that Cruz and others are championing to eliminate?
Stated differently, the principle of limited government centers around the federal government effectively executing its constitutional authority, and refraining from usurping authority to the contrary. The relevant question is whether the resources currently used to effectively guard the border are sufficient. Few would claim that they are. A substantial increase in border security resources is not a ‘de facto’ abandonment of limited government principles.
This stance should in no way be viewed as an attempt at increasing the largess of our federal government. True largess comes from creating new law and implementing an infrastructure to enforce those laws while simultaneously enforcing current law. Simply increasing the current infrastructure to enforce current law is not an increase in the size and scope of the federal authority as erroneously argued by Mr. Gonzalez.
Claim: The Amendments proposed by Sen. Senator Cruz…to further enlarge government…[presents] serious Constitutional violations to homeowners, ranchers in South Texas, and all border communities who will have to relinquish land and properties the Department of Homeland Security and the Obama Administration.
Again, increasing the number of security personal and drones won’t result in a ‘de facto’ infringement on the property rights of southern Texans. Those currently engaged in Illegal activity and the federal government’s inability to address such activity is indeed, a direct threat to the persons and property of homeowners along the border, who currently face near-lawless conditions.
The unwillingness to resolve these issues is the effective constitutional violation, especially considering the largess of government resources dedicated to alternative, unconstitutional uses, such as education and energy, and those overseas that, unlike a porous southern border, do not pose a threat to Americans on American soil. Southern property owners have suffered by the side-effects of our immigration problem. State and federal agencies can address illegal immigration, similar to other law-enforcement conditions, without trampling the economic and civil liberties of Texans.
Claim: The big government Amendments proposed by Sen. Cruz do not reflect the values of limited government that Texas value, but rather resembles the big Progressive government policies of the 1920s and Prohibition Era that sought to fix economy and social programs by creating federal bureaucracies to regulate economic activity and morality.
Unlike the progressive economic and social programs of the 1920s, immigration regulation and border security are both clearly under the constitutional authority of the federal government. Cruz’s proposals are aimed to address immigration problems that are currently exacerbating economic and social costs due to incentives created by the progressive era, welfare state programs.
Nearly 40% of illegal immigrants are non-Mexican; this poses a clear national security, more so than an economic, threat to America at large. Sen. Cruz has said on numerous occasions that in a post 9/11 America, it is absolutely preposterous that we do not know who is coming across our borders. One of the main reasons why Cruz campaigned on comprehensive immigration reform is due to the consequent social and economic costs of a broken legal system, coupled with the luring incentives of an expansive welfare state. In fact, Cruz introduced an amendment that would have made illegal immigrants “ineligible for federal, state, or local means-tested welfare benefits”. This was, of course, rejected in committee. Once again, Mr. Gonzalez erroneously tried to link Sen. Cruz to big government spending. This simply is not the case.
Claim: Sen. Cruz…presumes that tripling the size of the Border Patrol is the solution. But tripling of the size of Border Patrol only will strength the role of Border Patrol Unions, which are not under the purview of the federal government or the state of Texas, but rather Union Bosses.
Border Patrol Unions are under the purview of the irresponsible politicians who designed a legal system that gives them preferential treatment, at the expense of taxpayers. Additionally, Cruz believes that providing the necessary security staff to reduce illegal immigration is only part of the solution. Sen. Cruz believes increasing “boots-on-the-ground” is but one necessary element in working towards a secure border. Elements like drones, night vision and even a wall are all necessary tools to secure that border. Mr. Gonzalez regretfully demonstrated another falsehood in suggesting Sen. Cruz “presumes tripling the size of the Border Patrol is the solution.”
The biggest differentiator between Cruz’s policy proposals and that of most of his colleagues is his emphasis on streamlining legal immigration. Sen. Cruz has reiterated on numerous occasions that we must remain a country that does not just welcome legal immigrants, but celebrates them. There is a stark difference between legal and illegal immigrants. As a nation, we must respect the rule of law as it is a fundamental cornerstone of our republic. To not support illegal immigration should not misconstrued as lack of support for legal immigration. Cruz proposed “doubling the annual green-card cap, eliminating the diversity green-card program and per-country caps, and reduce bureaucracy in the green-card system”. For most Mexicans migrating to Texas to improve their standard of living, the legal immigration process is not a pragmatic option. For some, the process could take up to 17 years. Consequently, a billion dollar people smuggling black market has emerged, not only endangering the lives of Mexican immigrants themselves, but also creating a well-funded opposing force that government agents tirelessly fight against. Cruz is not an advocate of unions for government workers; this problem exists outside the realm of Cruz’s proposals and the immigration debate altogether. We need an immigration plan that works while still respecting our nation’s rule of law and upholding our Constitution. Sen. Cruz’s amendments worked towards that goal.
Claim: In addition, the proposed Amendment by Sen. Cruz and the “gang” of four to militarize Texas-Mexico border may hamper farther trade relation between Texas and Mexico in time when Mexico is becoming middle-class nation and Texas economy dependents more on trade with Mexico.
What’s presented above is a false choice; we either, 1) maintain the current, allegedly tranquil climate conducive to economic activity, or 2) militarize the border. Currently, the border is militarized with drug cartels who operate with near immunity and above-the-law status. Drug cartels are better equipped and better paid than their law enforcement counterparts. Daytime assassinations have taken place in border towns where a stray bullet or even well-thrown rock would hit American soil. An appropriate response to quell illegal activity in and around the border will ease trade and economic activity, not restrict it. Effective immigration policy and effective border security will encourage and promote trade, as illegal activity on the border will decrease as illegal immigration decreases.
Claim: Sens. Cornyn, McCain, and Kyle–all Republican border states– have such different views from Sen. Cruz. How can a reasonable person presume that Jeff Session and Mike Lee can know more about border than Sen. Cornyn’s, and therefore, that is why Cruz sided with them over Sen. Cornyn. Well you can’t.
We have a broken immigration system and unsecured border. That is a fact. Sen. Cruz and Sen. Cornyn both are aware of this and do not have major substantive differences as both feel border security is of paramount concern. Sen. McCain is indeed entitled to his opinion as Sen. Cruz is entitled to his. One should not suggest that disagreeing with a fellow Senator is cause for consternation among the GOP ranks. It should come as no surprise that Sen. Cruz would develop his own amendments rather than just playing along to get along with the old rank and file. As immigration reform is not a new concern and has plagued past Congresses, it is time we have real solutions different than the “old guard.” That is precisely the reason Texas overwhelmingly elected Sen. Cruz. McCain, unlike Lee, went out of his way to chastise “Wacko-bird” Cruz for participating in Rand Paul’s admirable filibuster and has since distanced himself from other conservative senators while aligning himself with the moderate wings of both parties. It is somewhat unusual behavior for someone who was self-described as a “Maverick” to then criticize a Senator for being just that. The fact that Cruz has distanced himself from McCain’s policy prescriptions has done more to strengthen, not weaken, his credibility with Texans.
You don’t have to live in a border state to be able to identify common-sense immigration policy. Border security is dire need first and foremost; otherwise we will revisit this issue in a matter of years. Lee and Cruz both know this and favor an incremental reform approach covered in multiple bills, not a massive overhaul contained in a single bill, where both political parties make concessions, not by excluding ineffective provisions from the bill, but by allowing non-sense provisions to be included, so long as their respective pieces make the final draft. Is it any wonder that common sense solutions have yet to come out of Washington in this sort of environment and cronyism culture?
Claim: The Amendment by Sen. Cornyn seeks provisional “triggers” before registered immigrants are allowed to apply for green card status. His amendment would require 100 percent of “illegal border crossers” to be apprehended rather than 90 percent in the current bill.
What serious person with a cursory familiarity with public policy believes that any institution, let alone a federal bureaucracy, will apprehend 100% of illegal border crossers? Unlike Cruz, Sen. Cornyn fails to recognize the role that a convoluted legal immigration framework has played in indirectly encouraging increased illegal immigration. This is an example of policy that sounds good and is politically safe, but ineffective in recognizing, let alone solving, the root cause of the problem. However, Sen. Cornyn should at least be recognized for his attempt to introduce a measurable metric with which we can use to determine whether or not we have a secured border. That is more than can be said for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when questioned in a Senate hearing by Sen. Cruz. When asked what sort of metric DHS would use to determine a secure border, Secretary Napolitano replied she did not know. Again, how can one expect a federal agency charged with securing our border to determine a secure border when it does not even have a standard to measure just that? Well, again, you cannot.
Senator Cruz and Cornyn have both expressed concerns with the “Gang of Eight” bill; both have had the frustrating experience of having common-sense amendments be rejected in committee. Close scrutiny regarding the merits of either legislator’s proposals may result in a variety of conclusions. What it won’t result in is Mr. Gonzalez’s characterization of Ted Cruz as progressive, big-government Republican squish. Besides, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are locking horns to claim top honors for the title. In my judgment, journalists inside the GOP should spend more time criticizing those tenured Senators who have earned rebuke; not only for masterminding bad policy, but for demagoguing those who shed light on their follies of wanton disregard for principled conservatism in a desperate attempt to resuscitate the last few breaths of their waning political careers.