"I'm disappointed in Ted because he's a very bright, articulate
lawyer with a substantial base of knowledge about immigration," said
Houston lawyer Charles Foster, who advised the Bush campaign on
immigration and said he worked closely with Cruz. "But instead of using
that knowledge, he's acting like a typical politician and just talking
about the border being out of control."
It would unfair to accuse Cruz of flip-flopping, however, since Bush
said little during the campaign about citizenship except to state his
opposition to "blanket amnesty." Cruz saw his job as a Bush campaign
staffer "to develop the best possible argument for the priorities that
then-Gov. Bush articulated," said Cruz's senior political adviser, Jason
Johnson. He said that he and Cruz did not discuss Bush's later support
for a pathway to citizenship, but he insisted that the senator has never
favored creating that process for illegal immigrants.
"His position on immigration and border security has been consistent
and clear, and that is that we should control the border and reform the
legal-immigration system," Johnson said.
The current bill would allow illegal immigrants to seek citizenship
after passing a background check, paying taxes and fines, holding down a
job, and going to the back of the line. Before the vote on Tuesday,
Cruz said that allowing undocumented workers to earn citizenship would
be unfair to legal immigrants and encourage more illegal immigration. He
also called the bill "toothless" to enforce border security. His
amendments, which failed, would have tripled the number of border-patrol
agents and barred illegal immigrants from earning citizenship.
"We're a nation of immigrants," he said. "Every one of us around this
table are the children of those who came here seeking freedom, and
we're also a nation of rule of law. In addressing immigration, I believe
we need to respect both legacies."
As the Republican nominee for president in 2000, Bush's chief
immigration proposal was to split what was then the Immigration and
Naturalization Service into two agencies, one to serve immigrants and
the other to enforce border security. Bush also called for spending $500
million so that all immigration applications could be processed within
six months, increasing the number of work visas, and allowing the
relatives of permanent residents to visit the U.S. while their
applicants were pending.
"Frankly, I think it laid the foundation for our colleagues in
Congress today," said John Bridgeland, who supervised Cruz's work on the
campaign's immigration plan as deputy policy adviser. "We thought it
was sensible, represented an adherence to law, and recognized the
economic and other contributions that immigrants make."
Bush and Cruz represent opposite sides of the divide among Texas
Republicans on immigration reform, torn between pragmatism toward a
growing Hispanic population and distrust of the federal government to
enforce its borders. Gov. Rick Perry faced withering criticism from his
rivals for the 2012 presidential nomination for signing a law that
granted college tuition breaks to the children of illegal immigrants.
Before she retired earlier this year, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
cosponsored a bill that would have allowed children who were brought to
this country illegally to receive legal status. On the other hand, Rep.
Lamar Smith has been an outspoken critic of legalization, while Sen.
John Cornyn, who sits on the Judiciary Committee with Cruz, joined him
in voting against the bill on Wednesday.