Texas Senator Ted Cruz has long positioned himself as an opponent of the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill authored by the so-called “Gang of Eight,” arguing that the legislation did not go far enough to solve the problem of illegal immigration. However, two of the primary minds behind the bill have gone on record to claim that Cruz actually offered amendments to the immigration package, suggesting that Cruz actually supported the bill.
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According to Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, Cruz would have voted for the bill if his amendment to dramatically increase the number of green cards and H-1B visas for skilled workers were passed. “You can only take people by their words. His words were clear that passage of that amendment would improve the chances of passage of the bill. He made that clear and he made both on the floor and off the floor,” McCain said on Thursday.
Cruz has argued that Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also a member of the Gang of Eight and a powerful competitor for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has not shown himself strong enough on immigration reform by supporting a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Rubio has countered by pointing to Cruz’s proposed amendments to the bill, insisting that their immigration policies are not as different as Cruz would like to believe.
Earlier this week, Cruz told Fox News’s Bret Baier that his proposal was only meant to shape the bill into something he could support. “The fact that I introduced an amendment to remove part of the Gang of Eight bill, doesn’t mean I support the rest of the Gang of Eight bill. The Gang of Eight bill was a mess, it was a terrible bill,” Cruz said in an interview on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Cruz told reporters in Las Vegas that the amendments were part of a larger political ploy. “Listen, the Democrats and the establishment Republicans who supported the Gang of Eight, they claimed they were all about, they cared for the people who were here illegally,” he said. “And so that amendment, I introduced an amendment that made anyone here illegally permanently ineligible for citizenship. By exposing the hypocrisy, by calling their bluff, we won. We defeated amnesty. We beat it.”
Flake dismissed Cruz’s claims. “It’s tough to maintain now that when you said this wasn’t a poison pill, that you wanted the legislation to pass, that that’s not what you wanted,” the Arizona senator argued. “He didn’t want there to be a path to citizenship, but he did want those who are here illegally to have a way to obtain legal status. That was one of the amendments that he offered.”