The debate took a decidedly combative tone Tuesday afternoon when Sen. Cruz offered two amendments: One to prevent newly legalized immigrants from getting any public benefits, and another to eliminate the bill’s path to citizenship, giving illegal immigrants a chance at legal status and even green cards, but never a shot at full citizenship.
“What kind of America are you thinking about, Sen. Cruz?” Sen. Durbin challenged. Mr. Durbin said he received government funding to go to college and that he doesn’t want to deny such benefits to immigrants.
The Illinois Democrat said preventing illegal immigrants from getting citizenship was also a betrayal of American values.
Mr. Cruz bristled, saying he had offered several amendments to expand legal immigration, and it was Democrats who rejected that, which he said was hypocritical.
He also said it was unfair for Democrats to make citizenship rights a deal-breaker.
“Tying immigration reform to a path to citizenship is not a strategy to pass the bill. It’s a strategy to create partisan division,” the freshman Republican said.