- The Washington Times - Friday, October 30, 2015

A Hispanic rights advocate said Friday that Sen. Ted Cruz’s push to expand legal immigration by granting more green cards and student visas is spot on, but that the Texas Republican is missing the mark when it comes to dealing with the nation’s illegal immigrants.

Daniel Garza, of the Libre Initiative, a conservative Latino group, applauded Mr. Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, for pushing to open the door to twice as many immigrants in through legal channels.

“He believes strongly in legal immigration,” Mr. Garza said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal. “Ted has also proposed to quadruple the number of student visas, so that it is more market driven. So he gets it about legal immigration.”

“Where we want to work with the senator a little more is what do we do with the 11 million that are here,” he said, alluding to illegal immigrant estimates. “We want to encourage him to be more accommodating to those folks.”

Hispanic leaders are looking to have more influence on the 2016 GOP nomination race and have called on Republicans to learn a lesson from the 2012 presidential race where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lost Latino voters in a landslide after embracing a policy of “self-deportation” for illegal immigrants.

Before the third GOP debate this week, leaders from about a dozen Hispanic groups huddled in Colorado to discuss how to have a bigger voice in the nomination fight. They warned the GOP against nominating real estate mogul Donald Trump, who they say has used rhetoric and staked out policy positions that could torpedo the party’s chances of making inroads in the presidential election.

Prior to the meeting, some attendees also voiced concerns over Mr. Cruz’s immigration record, as well as his embrace on Mr. Trump on the campaign trail.

They said Mr. Cruz was wrong to support Mr. Trump’s calls to wipe away the 14th Amendment, which would end the policy granting automatic citizenship to almost everyone born in the U.S.

And they said Mr. Cruz must be more clear about his plans for illegal immigrants if he wants to make inroads with fellow Latinos.

Mr. Cruz opposed the 2013 immigration overhaul that two of his 2016 GOP rivals — Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida — helped usher through the Senate. The bill that would have granted quick legal status to illegal immigrants, but withhold full citizenship rights until some conditions were met, including on border security.

But Mr. Cruz said the bill did not do enough to strengthen the border and offered a series of amendments that were never considered on the floor of the Senate — including one that, he said at the time, “reflects the will of the American people to have border security first and only then the possibility of legalization.”

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