Cruz and Amnesty: The Telltale Video

Do You Have Amnesty in that Basket? Did Ted Cruz support an immigration solution that involved legalizing the 11 million or so illegals now in the U.S.? When we last left this dispute, Cruz staffers were denying it. True, a New York Times article had asserted that Cruz was carving out a “middle ground” on immigration, offering illegals legalization (work permits that would allow them to stay here) but making stopping short of the citizenship offered in the Senate’s “Gang of 8” bill:

Asked about what to do with the people here illegally, however, he stressed that he had never tried to undo the goal of allowing them to stay.

“The amendment that I introduced removed the path to citizenship, but it did not change the underlying work permit from the Gang of Eight,” he said during a recent visit to El Paso. …

The Times’ characterization wasn’t accurate, Cruz spokesperson Brian Phillips argued. Cruz was only offering his amendment “to show that Dems won’t allow any reform without pathway to citizenship,” not because he actually supported it.  Just a parliamentary device! See this Twitter exchange with MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin:

Benjy Sarlin:  @RealBPhil Okay so to be 100% clear: If his amendment succeeded, he still would not have supported work permits for existing undocumented?

Brian Phillips: . 100% clear: Cruz’s amendment had nothing to do with that issue. [Emphasis added]

Even some experienced Washington hands seemed to buy Phillips’ explanation.

They shouldn’t. How can I be so sure? I’ve got proof! Here’s a video, the link to which was recently sent me by alert kausfiles reader J. In it, Cruz speaks directly to immigration “advocacy groups,” and clearly embraces his legalization-without-citizenship option as a big part of a solution that he supports. The most relevant passage starts around 3:30 in:

And I’d like to make a final point to those advocacy groups that are very engaged in this issue and rightly concerned about addressing our immigration system, and in particular about addressing the situation for the 11 million who are currently in the shadows. If this amendment is adopted to the current bill the effect would be that those 11 million under this current bill would still be eligible for RPI status.** They would still be eligible for legal status and indeed under the terms of the bill they would be eligible for LPR status as well, so that they are out of the shadows, which the proponents of this bill repeatedly point to as their principle objective — to provide a legal status for those who are here illlegally to be out of the shadows. This amendment would allow that to happen …

And a second point to those advocacy groups that are so passionately engaged. In my view if this committee rejects this amendment, and I think everyone here views it as quite likely this committee will choose to reject this amendment, in my view that decision will make it much, much more likely that this entire bill will fail in the House of Representantives. I don’t want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass, and so I would urge people of good faith on both sides of the aisle, if the objective is to pass common sense immigration reform that secures the borders, that improves legal immigration, and that allows those who are here illegally to come in out of the shadows, then we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement and compromise to come together and this amendment — I believe if this amendment were to pass the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically, and so I would urge the committee to give it full consideration and to adopt the amendment. …. [Emphasis added]

Does that sound like someone using a parliamentary device merely to smoke out the Democratic position, or someone sketching “middle ground” legislation he supports?

Note: I haven’t contacted Phillips to get comment. Don’t wanna be no Free Beacon! I’ll update and add any response here.


** — “RPI” means “Registered Provisional Immigrant,” the legal status the Gang of 8 bill would have granted illegals within a few months of its passage. Citizenship would come later.