PLAYER PROFILE

Ted Cruz

Republican U.S. Senator from Texas

Immigration is a core issue for Republican Senator Ted Cruz. He represents a state that makes up over half the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, and has served on the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration since he first took office in 2013. He ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 and has signaled that he intends to run again in 2024.

Cruz is an uncompromising opponent of protections for undocumented immigrants, including the DACA program. At a campaign event in 2016, when a young DACA recipient asked whether a President Cruz would deport Dreamers such as herself, Cruz responded, “If you’re a DACA recipient it means that you were brought here illegally, and violating the laws has consequences.” 

As the child of a Cuban immigrant himself, Cruz has long trumpeted his support for legal immigration. “There is no stronger advocate for legal immigration in the U.S. Senate than I am,” he told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in early 2015, pointing to his record on H1-B visas. In 2013, he presented an amendment to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill that proposed to increase the issuance of H1-B visas by 500 percent. Cruz argued that the increase would help American companies fill a shortage of STEM workers even though the program faced charges of widespread abuse and outsourcing. 

However, as a candidate for the 2016 Republican nomination the H1-B amendment came back to haunt him.  Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin called his proposal “nuts,” while fellow presidential primary candidate Rick Santorum argued it was a self-serving ploy to attract big-business donors. 

Cruz promptly about-faced. His immigration campaign platform, released in November 2015, called for suspending the H1-B program for 180 days so claims of fraud could be investigated and necessary reforms made, as well as freezing any increase in legal immigration overall until the unemployment rate fell. He pledged to end the Diversity Visa lottery and limit citizens’ ability to sponsor their extended families for green cards, two points long sought by anti-immigration hawks. In place of the current employer-driven visa system, he would establish a skills-based “points system” to award visas based on factors like level of education, professional experience, and English fluency. Borrowing talking points from increasingly popular fellow 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump, Cruz also promised to build a border wall and put an end to birthright citizenship.  

Although Cruz railed against Trump during the 2016 campaign, calling him a “pathological liar” and declining to endorse him at the RNC, he later became one of the president’s closest allies. In early 2021 he spearheaded the symbolic bid to overturn the 2020 election results, a move that strained the relationship between Cruz and many of his fellow Republicans. In the next four years, he is likely to become an increasingly vocal figure as he seeks to distance himself further from moderates in his party and to capture the public eye ahead of a second bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

SOURCES:

Cruz’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    “Border security is unquestionably a national priority,” said Cruz in a 2019 press release. His 2016 immigration platform pledged to triple the ranks of the Border Patrol, increase aerial surveillance, update enforcement technology, and build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Border Wall

    As early as 2012, Cruz supported building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. During his 2016 bid for the presidential nomination, his immigration plan included a plan to “build a wall that works.” He voted against an attempt to block Trump’s appropriation of emergency funds to build the border wall, and in 2018 co-sponsored the WALL Act with Sen. Jim Inhofe and others in an attempt to secure $25 billion for the border wall by "closing existing loopholes that provide illegal immigrants with federal benefits and tax credits.”

  • Detention

    Cruz has long favored detention over so-called “catch and release” tactics, or the practice of releasing individuals who pose no safety or flight risk pending their immigration court date. In 2014, he co-sponsored the Keep Our Communities Safe Act with Sen. Jim Inhofe and four others that proposed to allow the detention of immigrants “without limitation until subject to a final order of removal.” However, his reaction to the controversial “zero-tolerance” child separation policy of 2018 was mixed. While he argued that the controversy was largely constructed by the media, he also sponsored the Protect Kids and Parents Act, which would have mandated immigrant families be kept together in detention.

  • Immigration Courts

    Cruz has emphasized the need to expedite the judicial processing of undocumented immigrants and asylum claimants. During his 2016 bid for the presidency, his immigration platform pledged to increase the number of immigration judges and direct them to “prioritize deporting illegal criminals.”

  • Undocumented Population

    Cruz is a vehement opponent of amnesty for undocumented immigrants. His 2016 presidential campaign chairman, Chad Sweet, said that Cruz supports the idea of “attrition through enforcement,” or enacting policies to make life so difficult for undocumented immigrants that they leave the country on their own.

  • ICE

    Cruz has repeatedly called for increased funding and manpower for ICE, including in his 2016 immigration campaign plan. In 2018, alongside 40 fellow Republicans and one Democrat, he co-sponsored a resolution that “expresses support for ICE officers and employees and denounces calls for ICE's abolishment.”

  • DACA

    “If you’re a DACA recipient it means that you were brought here illegally, and violating the laws has consequences,” Cruz responded when questioned by a young DACA recipient at a 2016 campaign event. In 2018, he refused to support the Secure and Succeed Act, a Republican-backed amendment that proposed to eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery, limit family-sponsored immigration, and allocate $25 billion to border security — all points on Cruz’s own 2016 campaign platform — because the act also included a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

  • Asylum

    “Many illegal immigrants who are apprehended at the border are released into the United States based on questionable claims of persecution in their home countries,” wrote Cruz in 2016. His campaign plan proposed to detain all asylum seekers, process them rapidly, and immediately deport unsuccessful claimants to their home countries.

  • Central America Policy

    No statement found.

  • Visas

    As a new senator, Cruz initially supported a dramatic increase in the issuance of H1-B visas, which are designated for highly-skilled foreign workers but face charges of corporate abuse. After taking fire for his H1-B position during his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Cruz reversed course and argued for a 180-day freeze on the H1-B visa program in order to investigate claims of fraud and make necessary reforms. Cruz has also called for eliminating the Diversity Visa lottery, limiting family-sponsored migration, and replacing the employer-driven visa system with a “points system” that would award visas based on factors such as level of education, employment history, and language skills.