- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2015

Seeking to sharpen the immigration debate within the presidential race, Sen. Ted Cruz vowed Friday to take a stricter stand on both legal and illegal immigration, saying he will enforce deportation laws already on the books and that he no longer supports a massive increase in legal immigration.

The Texan accused some of his fellow GOP presidential rivals of supporting “amnesty” for current illegal immigrants, and warned the Republican Party will be on a path to destruction if it nominates an amnesty supporter next year.

“If you support amnesty you are supporting our national debt growing and grown and growing and bankrupting our kids and grandkids. If you support amnesty, you are supporting the Democratic party’s assault on religious liberty, assault on our Second Amendment, assault on our privacy,” he said, speaking in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Cruz said he would complete the 700 miles of double-tier fence called for in the Secure Fence Act approved by Congress in 2006 — including support from then-Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama — and would also beef up the Border Patrol and end the catch-and-release policy that quickly grants illegal immigrants caught at the border access to the interior of the U.S.

But his big shift has come on legal immigration, where he in the past has supported increases. He now says he supports a 180-day moratorium on high-skilled guest-workers under the H-1B program, and would halt any other increases in legal immigration until the workforce participation rate in the U.S. drops.

In the interior of the U.S., he promised to freeze federal funding for “sanctuary” cities that refuse to cooperate with deportation authorities, and said he would end the policy of birthright citizenship, which grants automatic citizenship to almost every baby born in the country, including to illegal immigrant mothers.

Immigration — both legal and illegal — has become a hot topic in the 2016 campaign, and a threshold issue for many voters who worry that the flow of immigration is hurting their economic well-being and the contributing to the nation’s fiscal woes.

That served as a backdrop to a back-and-forth this week between Mr. Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, both the sons of Cuban immigrants, over their respective immigration records.

Mr. Cruz cast Mr. Rubio as weak on immigration, pointing to the leading role the Florida Republican played in pushing a bill through the Senate in 2013 that would have granted a pathway to citizenship for most of the 11 million people living in the country illegally.

Mr. Rubio countered that he and Mr. Cruz shared much the same positions, and that Mr. Cruz has flip-flopped.

Mr. Cruz chose to roll out his immigration plan in Mr. Rubio’s political backyard, challenging the entire GOP field to come clean about whether they will end the deportation amnesties President Obama announced through executive action in 2012 and 2014.

All of the Republicans have said they would cancel the 2014 policy, which was ruled illegal by a federal appeals court earlier this week.

But the 2012 policy, which applies only to so-called Dreamers, remains in place, and candidates have been less forthcoming on their plans to deal with that. Dreamers are considered the most sympathetic of illegal immigrants, since they came to the U.S. as children, usually with no say in the decision.

“If I am elected president, on the first day in office, I will rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action,” Mr. Cruz said. “And let me point out there are some Republican candidates for president that don’t want to answer that question … or sometimes they answer it one way on English stations and another way on Spanish stations.”

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