Ted Cruz Is the Strongest Candidate on Immigration
March 6, 2016
Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that the media and the other candidates wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration if it weren’t for him, and his supporters certainly seem to think Trump’s “strong” positions on illegal immigration are a core reason to vote for him. But do the facts match this narrative?
1 — In fact, Ted Cruz has been consistently in favor of building a wall, double-layered fence, or other serious barrier along the southern border for years. As Patterico points out, this was Cruz’s position when he was running for Senate in 2012:
Patterico points out that this was still Cruz’s position in March 2015, months before Trump launched his presidential campaign; in fact, Cruz talked about the need to secure the border in his campaign-launch speech on March 23rd.
So Cruz has been consistently pro-wall since at least 2012. Meanwhile what have Donald Trump’s positions been?
2 — In 2012, Trump repeatedly denounced both deporting illegal immigrants and Mitt Romney’s relatively moderate pro-enforcement position—Romney favored employment enforcement leading to gradual, voluntary “self-deportation”. Specifically, Trump called the idea of self-deportation “crazy” and “maniacal”, elaborating, “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote . . . .” Trump also said of deportation:
I’m one of the world’s very conservative people, but I have to tell you on a human basis, how do you throw somebody out that’s lived in this country for 20 years.
3 — In the Republican presidential debates, Trump has repeatedly revealed that he doesn’t know his own campaign’s policy on immigration, as published on the official Donald J. Trump campaign Web site.
- At the CNBC debate last October 28th, Trump called for increasing the number of H-1B visas for foreign workers; his Web site at the time (actually, it doesn’t appear to have changed) criticized others for increasing or proposing to increase the number of H-1B visas, but Trump in the debate claimed never to have made any such criticism. (See original video from the debate, discussion in Washington Examiner, Buzz Feed.)
- At the Fox News debate in Detroit last Thursday, March 3rd, he again contradicted the plan still on his Web site. When pressed on the issue, he said that he was now “changing” and “softening” his position:
4 — Trump’s new 2015-2016 pro-wall position is still to the left of Ted Cruz. Cato’s Michael Tanner at NRO a month ago (after the Iowa caucuses) tried to sort out what the frontrunners’ actual positions are. He’s not the only one to point out that when you look behind the bluster, Trump’s actual stated position includes a form of amnesty:
Immigration: Opposition to illegal immigration has been, of course, Trump’s signature issue. He promises to deport all undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., and to build a wall, and make Mexico pay for it. Beyond that, however, his position gets a little murkier. He has suggested, for example, that after deporting current illegals, he would somehow allow “the good ones” to return. At times he has seemed to embrace Jeff Sessions–style opposition to further legal immigration. At others he has spoken of having “a big, beautiful door” in his wall, and of the need to welcome skilled immigrants.
While he offers some fair criticisms of Cruz and Rubio’s rhetoric and positions as well, Tanner concludes that
[Cruz] now is a firm opponent of legalization, calls for slowing legal immigration, and is a near-Trumpian advocate for building a wall. On the other hand, he opposes Trump-like mass deportations, sort of putting him in the Mitt Romney “self-deportation” camp.
In short, Cruz is the strongest, most consistently pro-enforcement candidate in the race. Cruz is the best candidate on immigration.