If there has been a single issue that defined the era of Donald trump’s presidency, it has been immigration.
From the moment that Trump rode down the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, he began his campaign by making outrageous, fear-mongering claims about the unspeakable crimes supposedly being committed by illegal immigrants and vowed to stop the invented horrors by forcing Mexico to pay for a physical wall to separate the two nations on our southern border.
Once it became clear that Trump was going to win the nomination, his rivals in the Republican Party became sudden converts to his draconian immigration policy, particularly those in the southern states directly affected by the illegal border crossings.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is one of Trump’s former rivals who pivoted into being one of his most fervent supporters despite the dire insults the New York tax cheat had lobbed at his wife and his father during the primary.
One could scroll back in Cruz’s Twitter feed from the beginning of the Trump administration past its ignominious end and find numerous posts where the Canadian-born immigrant senator of Cuban descent backed the former guy’s immigration policies and proposed that convicted Mexican drug lord El Chapo pay for the wall.
Since Trump’s ouster, Cruz has harshly criticized President Biden for what he deems to be the federal government’s recent failures when it comes to border policy.
Joe Biden halted construction of the border wall, reinstated catch and release, and ended the remain in Mexico policy.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 5, 2021
While it seems that the large number of detainees caught would indicate that the Biden Administration is actually being quite successful in its execution of immigration laws, Cruz’s decision to interpret the large number of attempted illegal border crossings as a sign of failure proves that he is primarily interested in scoring cheap political points, rather than actually accomplishing anything else.
Now a report from El Paso NBC News affiliate KTSM-TV shows that Cruz’s actual opinions about the current situation at the Texas-Mexico border are as malleable as the direction that the wind happens to be blowing from at any given moment.
It’s the kind of thing that happens when one’s desire to be seen as an opponent of government health regulations in the midst of the worst pandemic that the world has seen in a century butts up against the unpopular anti-immigrant policies reviled by the residents of the heavily Hispanic southwest Texas area around El Paso and its sister city across the Mexican border in Ciudad Juárez.
This time, it seems that Senator Cruz’s desire to appeal to the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers of the world outweighed his anti-immigrant sentiment as he railed against restrictions on non-essential cross border traffic — considered a reasonable accommodation to the deadly Delta variant now dominating the COVID-19 pandemic by most Americans — that have been in place since the outbreak began last year.
“It is hurting Texas from El Paso all the way to Brownsville,” Senator Cruz said of the border restrictions while meeting with the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “We need to open up legal commerce so that our friends in Mexico can come across the bridge, can go shopping at stores here in El Paso, can go eat dinner at restaurants in El Paso, can go do business with businesses in El Paso,” he explained.
The non-essential travel restrictions were originally set to expire last week, but, in light of the Delta variant’s surge and the lack of available hospital beds in Texas due to the increasing number of infections, were extended by the Biden administration until at least September 21st.
Cruz’s calls for open borders were particularly hypocritical given that they occurred on the same day that he was advocating against allowing Afghan refugees from resettling in the United States.
“I agree with getting them out of harm’s way I just think we should be getting them to a neutral third country rather than making the United States vulnerable,” Cruz said while touring the Fort Bliss facility where Afghan refugees are being housed.
Cruz’s incongruent positions on immigration show what a tenuous hold he may have on his Senate seat going forward.
Caught between traditional business-friendly GOP instincts and the immigration intolerance of the Texas Republican MAGA base in an increasingly diverse state, Cruz will eventually have to throw his lot in with one side or the other.
Given his fecklessness when it comes to political convictions, he’ll likely choose whichever side he thinks will bring him the most votes in his cold political calculations.
You can watch the KTSM-TV report on Cruz’s comments below.
Original reporting by Shelby Kapp at KTSM-TV.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.