Did Jimmy Kimmel set the shot clock for Ted Cruz to act on family separations at the border?

 

Good day Austin:

Until just about five-to-five yesterday, Ted Cruz was the ultimate, tougher-than Trump, immigration hardliner.

From Sahil Kapur at Bloomberg in January

Senator Ted Cruz blasted the idea of giving young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, a day after President Donald Trump said he was open to the idea as part of immigration legislation being negotiated in Congress.

“I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally,” the Texas Republican said in the Capitol. “Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us.”

Cruz didn’t mention the president in his remarks, but they resurfaced some of the bitterness still left over from the presidential campaign. Trump fought Cruz for the Republican nomination and won with a hardline immigration stance that rejected “amnesty” for anyone in the country illegally. During the primaries, Cruz also took a strong stance on immigration and came out firmly against legalizing undocumented immigrants.

But on Wednesday, with negotiations on immigration legislation in Congress moving slowly, Trump indicated he was willing to be flexible.

“It’s gonna happen at some point in the future, over a period of 10-12 years,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen.”

Cruz said that President Barack Obama’s 2012 creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which included temporary work permits and deportation relief for young people that met certain criteria, didn’t provide a path to citizenship.

“For some reason that to me is utterly inexplicable, we see Republicans falling all over themselves to gallop to the left of Obama in a way that is contrary to the promises made to the voters who elected us,” Cruz said. “We need to honor the promises we made. And that is what I am energetically urging my colleagues to do.”

And here was Cruz from an interview with KERA for the June 11 edition of the show, Think.

On separating detained parents from their children …

Cruz: “There’s a reason why under the Obama administration that often didn’t happen. Because when they apprehended people here illegally, they just let them go. And when you let them go, you didn’t separate children from parents. You know, you think about it, if someone gets arrested for a crime – let’s say an American citizen … you’re separated from your children – you’re put in prison. If you’re the only caregiver for that child, then you’ve got to find alternative care for those children. … This is an issue that I think the media has largely constructed, because what’s shifted is that the Trump administration is endeavoring when people cross illegally to arrest them, not to let them go. And so if they have kids, you know there’s actually a court order that prevents keeping the kids with the parents when you put the parents in jail. So when you see reporters, when you see Democrats saying, ‘Don’t separate kids from their parent,’ what they’re really saying is, ‘Don’t arrest illegal aliens’.”

But by Friday he had this to say to KTSA:

Texas Senator Ted Cruz tells KTSA News he is horrified by the images of children being separated from their parents who are suspected of being illegal immigrants.

“One of the tragic consequences of illegal immigration is that often it is children who pay the biggest prices,” Cruz told KTSA in an exclusive interview Friday night.  “I would like to see an outcome where we endeavor to keep family units together — to keep mom and dad with their kids.”

The Texas Republican — who is up for reelection against Rep. Beto O’Rourke — said illegal immigration usually does not end well for children.

On one hand, Cruz said they are often abused on their journey to the U.S., sometimes caught up in drug cartels that exploit them. On the other, the end up getting split up from their parents when they get to the U.S.

The biggest thing the nation needs to do, he said, is secure the border to stop illegal immigration and help families looking to come here do so legally.  But until then, the processing for migrants needs to improve.

“What I think makes a lot more sense is that we need a lot more funding for immigration judges so that if a family comes with a credible claim of asylum, rather than having them wait weeks or months for that to be heard, that should be heard immediately,” Cruz said.  He added that those without a credible claim would be sent back sooner, keeping families out of detention facilities.

On Saturday, Cruz addressed the Republican State Convention, which did not appear to be torn up about the images at the border. As he always does, Cruz identified his rival, Beto O’Rourke, as an out-of-touch supporter of open borders.

Cruz left the convention early to participate in a charity basketball game with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, which was all really a fairly clever maneuver by Cruz to humanize himself.

Kimmel: It’s been my ambition since I was a little boy to play basketball against the least popular member of the United States Senate.

It proved successful.

But I think it might not have been, that the effort at humanization would have curdled, if Cruz had not done something a few hours before the show aired that enabled him to answer the critical question Kimmel posed early in their encounter.

Kimmel: The ref is having mercy on this. See this is a good lesson for you and those kids in that detention center.

The juxtaposition of Cruz clowning with Kimmel Saturday and O’Rourke leading a march Sunday morning on the border to protest separating children from their parents was not a good one.

But, at five minutes to five yesterday, just hours before the show as to air, Cruz’s office released this statement.

Sen. Cruz Introducing Emergency Legislation to Keep Illegal Immigrant Families Together

WILL CREATE NEW TEMPORARY SHELTERS – KEEPING FAMILIES INTACT – FUND NEW IMMIGRATION JUDGES, GUARANTEE REVIEW BY AN IMMIGRATION JUDGE WITHIN 72 HOURS, AND RETURN THOSE DENIED ASYLUM TO THEIR HOME COUNTRIES WITHIN 14 DAYS

June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), issued the following statement:

“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers. This must stop. Now. We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing this week.

“Repeatedly, I have visited detention facilities tragically housing young children.  For far too long, children have been the greatest victims of our broken immigration system, with tens of thousands of children who were detained under the Obama Administration and continuing through today, and with far too many of those children facing horrific physical or sexual assault from criminal human traffickers. 

“The answer is not what congressional Democrats are proposing: simply releasing illegal aliens and returning to the failed policy of ‘catch and release.’ Rather, we should fix the backlog in immigration cases, remove the legal barriers to swift processing, and resolve asylum cases on an expedited basis.

“While these cases are pending, families should stay together. Children belong with their mothers and fathers. Once their cases have been adjudicated – under my legislation, in no longer than 14 days – those who meet the legal standard should be granted asylum and those who don’t should be immediately returned to their home country.

“We can fix this. If my Democratic colleagues will join me, not play politics but work to solve the problem, we can start to end family separation this week. And, we can honor the rule of law.”

This week, Sen. Cruz is introducing the Protect Kids and Parents Act, which will: 

  • Double the number of federal immigration judges, from roughly 375 to 750.
  • Authorize new temporary shelters, with accommodations to keep families together.
  • Mandate that illegal immigrant families must be kept together, absent aggravated criminal conduct or threat of harm to the children.
  • Provide for expedited processing and review of asylum cases, so that—within 14 days—those who meet the legal standards will be granted asylum, and those who do not will be immediately returned to their home countries.

Cruz could have announced his plan in his speech at the state convention. But reaction there would have been uncertain.

From Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman  The New York Time

WASHINGTON — As Republicans try to keep their midterm election strategy focused on the economy, tax cuts and falling unemployment, President Trump sent his clearest signal yet on Monday that he intends to make divisive, racially charged issues like immigration central going into the campaign season.

Facing bipartisan criticism over his administration’s family separation practice on the border, Mr. Trump renewed the sort of bald and demagogic attacks on undocumented immigrants that worked well for him politically in his 2016 presidential campaign. He inveighed against “the death and destruction that’s been caused by people coming into this country” and vowed that “the United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”

Republicans typically handle immigration gingerly in an election year, as they try to appeal to Hispanic voters, independents and moderates across divergent districts. But with more Americans still opposing the tax measure than supporting it, Mr. Trump’s allies believe that trying to link Democrats to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and gangs like MS-13 will do more to galvanize Republican voters and get them to the polls in November than emphasizing economic issues.

“People don’t turn out to say thank you,” said Corey Lewandowski, one of the president’s top political advisers. “If you want to get people motivated, you’ve got to give them a reason to vote. Saying ‘build the wall and stop illegals from coming in and killing American citizens’ gives them an important issue.”

xxxxxx

Further, some in the party believe that by pursuing a hard-line approach to families at the border — a policy that is deeply unpopular among independent voters, according to polls — Mr. Trump is handing Democrats the high ground on immigration instead of making them defend their support for less popular immigrant protections like sanctuary cities.

“Somehow I don’t think that putting kids in cages is likely to go over very well with suburban moms,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster uneasy about running on the culture wars. Mr. Ayres said his party should campaign on “the concrete accomplishments of a Republican-held government.”

“A fabulously strong economy, a record stock market, ISIS defeated and a world without any major wars that are killing lots of Americans on a weekly basis,” he said, laying out the case.

Cruz is going to want to have it both ways – to maintain a hardline that will allow him, like Trump, to polarize the electorate and, in his case, leave O’Rourke looking weak – while at the same time not appearing simply inhumane.

One will notice that,in his press release about his new legislation, in which he describes being “horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers,” he sticks strictly to the nomenclature of “illegal immigrant families,” and “illegal aliens.”

No humanizing there.

And, if some are suggesting that his plan really is an iron fist in a velvet glove, that may be OK with the Cruz campaign as well.

Some condemnation on the left is most desirable for Cruz.

And, in the meantime, he mostly got exactly the reaction he wanted – that moved by a morally intolerable situation he was bravely standing up to the president and offering a thoughtful and reasonable response.

 

From David French:

Cruz’s bill enjoys the considerable virtue of focus. By banning family separation, it deals with the immediate crisis. By increasing the number of judges, authorizing new shelters, and providing for expedited processing, it can increase comfort for families, reduce the length of their detention, and ease the backlog. There’s a modest fiscal cost, of course, but it’s a price worth paying to end a broken policy.

The primary critique I’m seeing online is aimed at the 14 day asylum processing provision. Constructing a solid asylum case often takes time, and I’d be concerned about that provision as well if it didn’t ultimately allow for generous extensions when good cause is shown. But that seems like a point that can and should be quickly negotiated with input from experienced asylum attorneys.

Yes, it punts on immigration reform, the wall, and other legislative fixes, but Cruz is wise to do so. Each additional substantive provision increases controversy and complexity. Let’s save the grand bargains for another day.

Right now, the public debate is dominated by finger-pointing. Members of Congress are calling on Trump to make immediate, unilateral changes. Trump is demanding that Congress act, but with a bill that meets his requirements. Yet he doesn’t have to be (and given the conflicting and often trollish messages coming from the White House, shouldn’t be) in charge of this process. One of the many beauties of our constitutional system is that the branch closest to the people — the legislature — can override the president. It’s time to send exactly that message. Cruz’s legislation is a solid start.

All that and beating Jimmy Kimmel one-on-one.

Reader Comments 0

0 comments