Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-FL) recently released his immigration plan entitled, “Cruz Plan to Stop Illegal Immigration: Secure the Border, Restore the Rule of Law, and Protect Americans.”
The plan is organized in three sections: “Secure the Border,” “Restore the rule of law,” and “Reform Legal Immigration to Protect Americans.” In order to secure the border, Senator Cruz says he would “build a wall that works”—but that does not mean building a 2,000 mile long border. Cruz says he would finish the 700 miles of fencing mandated under the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and increase technology, equipment and aerial surveillance along the border. The major piece of Cruz’s plan to secure the border is his idea to triple the size of the border patrol. The border patrol already has a record 21,370 agents with the number of agents doubling since 2003. Tripling the border patrol would mean hiring over 40,000 new agents in a short period of time and would cost billions of dollars. The quick build up in the border patrol over the last 10 years has already led to significant oversight and accountability issues.
Senator Cruz also would fully implement biometric entry-exit at all ports of entry in the United States. Biometric entry-exit has been hotly debated. Many experts are unsure if it is currently feasible, and others, like the Bipartisan-Policy Center, say it is unclear whether the enforcement benefits are significant.
Under the heading of “Restore the rule of law,” Senator Cruz focuses on ending the President’s deferred action programs, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and last November’s executive actions expanding DACA and created Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Senator Cruz also would increase interior enforcement by increasing immigration detention space, criminalizing visa-overstays, and expanding E-verify. Furthermore, Cruz would end “sanctuary cities,” even though community policing policies actually make communities safer and increase communication between police and their residents without imposing any restrictions on federal law enforcement activities.
Turning to reforming the “legal” immigration system, Cruz’s plan is to push legislation that would change the entire focus of the current immigration system by creating a points system, shifting away from family reunification. He would also attempt to stop all legal immigration when unemployment is high and would halt the H-1B program for 180 days so it can be reviewed for abuses. Cruz’s “concern for American workers” is a significant change from his previous position during the 2013 Senate debate on immigration. At that time, he proposed increasing H-1B visas from 65,000 per year to 325,000 and called himself the Senate’s strongest advocate for legal immigration. Finally, Cruz would end birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. Repealing birthright citizenship would increase the size of the undocumented population, not reduce undocumented immigration. For example, a 2010 Migration Policy Institute study found that if citizenship were denied to every child with at least one unauthorized parent, the unauthorized population in the U.S. would reach 24 million by 2050.
Unfortunately, Senator Cruz, the son a Cuban immigrant, has decided to adopt many of the positions of some of the strongest anti-immigration members of Congress. He has significantly amped up the anti-immigrant rhetoric in an attempt to compete with others in the race instead of focusing on real solutions like comprehensive immigration reform.
Photo by Jamelle Boule.