Washington (CNN) - He may be one of the most junior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Sen. Ted Cruz's comments carry a lot of weight.
That may be because the freshman senator from Texas, who was just elected to Congress last November, won office with the help of the tea party movement, is a darling among some conservatives and is the only Republican on the panel who may have designs on the White House in 2016.
And Cruz, whose father was Cuban-born, is firmly in the spotlight as the committee begins hearings on a comprehensive immigration bill. During a committee hearing Monday, Cruz made no bones about his feelings on a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States.
"If the bill includes elements that are deeply divisive, and I would note that I don't think there is any issue in this entire debate that is more divisive than a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally, in my view any bill that insists upon that jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill," said Cruz in his most thorough remarks on the proposal since it was formally introduced last week.
The legislation, put together by a bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators, calls for an extended pathway to citizenship (10 years to obtain a green card and another three years to apply for citizenship) for most undocumented workers who entered the U.S. before 2012. Along the way, undocumented workers would have to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check. The legislation also mandates that there be no path to legality until it is determined that the U.S. border with Mexico is secure.
While polls indicate a majority of Americans support such an eventual pathway to citizenship, a vocal minority of conservatives call such proposals "amnesty."
Cruz didn't use the "A" word at the hearing, but he made it clear that any pathway to citizenship provision will doom the overall bill.
"It is my hope that passing a bipartisan bill addressing areas of common agreement...will not be held hostage to an issue that is deeply, deeply divisive, mainly a pathway to citizenship," said Cruz.
Cruz's stance puts him at odds with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican member of the "Gang of Eight," who was also elected (in 2010) with strong support from tea party activists. Rubio, like Cruz, is also considered a rising star. But the similarities don't end there: Rubio's parents were born in Cuba, and Rubio's considered a serious contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
After President Barack Obama won nearly three-quarters of the Latino vote in last year's presidential election, the Republican National Committee conducted a top-to-bottom review that recommended the party change its language and messaging in an attempt to better reach out to minority voters and younger voters. And most of the early possible GOP White House hopefuls, including conservative Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, appear to be open to some kind of eventual pathway to citizenship.
While Cruz, the former solicitor general of Texas, denies that politics is behind his stance on immigration (as does Rubio), his position does allows him to stand out from the rest of the possible 2016 crowd.
(Note: Cruz's eligibility to run for president has been subject to debate. He was born in Canada to a Cuban father, but his mother was an American citizen).
"Ted is a very smart guy. He's carved out a position that has put him to the right of the other potential '16 GOP candidates, but hasn't panned the entire bill. He has to be careful. Texas is changing and Hispanics there aren't his biggest fans," says GOP strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro.
"Bottom line: Ted is Hispanic and that means there is greater scrutiny on him on the immigration issue and by other Hispanics. If he has national aspirations, he shouldn't become the anti-immigration reform guy," adds Navarro, who supports the "Gang of Eight" immigration proposal.
Is Ted Cruz a latino variant of Allen West?
What a shame for him: born too late to take advantage of the GOP/Teatroll tradition of being elected to the WH with only white male votes. Sorry, McCarthy...err, I mean Cruz...day late, dollar short, and absent justification for considering you anything but a partisan demagogue.
Sen. Ted Cruz needs to find out why they let a fertilizer plant get away with not following laws and regulations !
It's time the GOP tells the truth about deregulation and less accountability .
And under Texas law , compensation is limited , consumer protection is bad for consumers ?
Only in Texas
"I don't think there is any issue in this entire debate that is more divisive than a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally"
GOP/Teatroll Rosetta Stone says: "Yeah, we know the overwhelming majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship, but we're so afraid of losing power via demographic shifts that when say "divisive," what we really mean is that it will cause the most radical of us fright wingers to throw a massive hissy fit."
Breaking our immigration laws should be an automatic disqualifier for any eligibility of citizenship, work visa – maybe? U.S. citizen – hell no!
Any pathway to US Citizenship will doom this bill. We need to deport all illegal aliens. We tried Amnesty in 1986 and got 11 million more illegal aliens. We need our Federal Government to send a clear message to illegal immigrants and the business community. NO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. We should make the people who hire illegal aliens, pay the cost of deporting their illegal aliens employees back home.
Don't reward the illegals with U.S. citizenship!
How can we give the illegals citizenship they are breaking our laws. Before they could even be considered for citizenship they should return to their countries and get in line for legal entry to this country. The Republicans in Washington need to understand. We conservatives voted you into office and we will vote you out if you vote for
illegals staying in this country.
Oh sure. Any legal electability of this Republican for the white house is no issue because he's a Republican. If this guy was a democrat the GOP would be trying to have him disallowed from contention.
But hey, most of the people in this country wouldn't be here if it weren't for the immigration "openness" of this country. Both current and past generations of families.
The only true Americans are the Native Indian tribes which I can proudly trace my family tree back to.
The right wing hick and gop teaparty stooge will never even be allowed to run but if he did run ,his conservative idiot base wouldn't even. Vote for the wetback illagle moron .
"Republican...who may have designs on the White House in 2016."
"pathway to citizenship"
"Doomed designs on the WH"
Any questions? If you need an abacus for this one, you're thick...real thick.
As romney said ,the teaparty gop stooge should self deport ,the only good thing the tax cheat said in 2012 !!!!
WOW...Texas elected a Senator that was born in Canada.....to a Cuban born father.....how the hell did he get past the TEA party birhters......?????
Looks like SOMBODY wasn't paying attention in Texas........
Sen. Rafael from Canada, keep your two cents to yourself.
I cannot understand individuals such as Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan. They wish to deny people of the exact same benefits and policies that have aided them in aquiring their current stature. For Ted Cruz to rail against amnesty is hypocritical at best and inauthentic at worst. Cubans have had blanket amnesty for nearly 50 years, but where is his faux outrage on that. I tell you, he is a mental midget playing in a game with intellectual giants.
Some one need to tell this clown to put a cork in it. I stand I better chance of becoming president than this green-eared, loud-mouthed embarrasment.
The peewee Herman look a like should self deport along with the rest of the gop teaparty garbage Cruz has no chance of being realected ,never mind being president ,except maybe president of the garbage collectors union, he should swim back to Canada where he slithered in from.
"how the hell did he get past the TEA party birhters......?????"
He said a bunch of bigotted crap that they wanted to hear.
one more crazy repo using the bombings as an excuse to hold off on immigration reform. This tea party favorite is a real piece of work. Where does Texas keep finding these clowns. ? They are a big state with wide open spaces and they breed big loonies with wide open spaces between their ears. We should have know the party of no could not stay quiet for more than a few days.
Cruz & Rand & Rubio are Bomb Throwers. They've never BUILT anything in their lives, only good at destroying things. They are good at building their OWN careers.
"We need to deport all illegal aliens."
OK, let's assume we do. PLease detail how we do so without spending hundreds of billions of dollars and turning every city in the country into a police state where door to door searches of EVERYONE'S homes are taking place daily, just like we witnessed taking place in Boston on Friday (albiet justified in that particular situation of course).
"It's time the GOP tells the truth about deregulation and less accountability ."
We can start by using an analogy that characterizes the GOP/Teatrolls' policies as an exlpoding crap factory.
So Cruz is just another worthless anchor baby huh? Just like Rubio......
2 Cuban anti-American peas in a pod.
Has anyone considered that if the current "Gang of 8" legislation was signed today that the 69 Million working Americans would suddenly and instantly face 8 Million new people competing for their jobs?? Illegals today have jobs on the fringe of the American workforce, low paying, low visibility jobs. Imagine a job marketplace flooded with 8 Million new people competing for Good Paying jobs Americans currently enjoy!
An you think College graduates have it bad.......
If you are an American middle-class worker with a job at the factory.......... LOOK OUT!!!
Don't buy into the GOP and Democratic feel-good stories about how we need to bring people out of the shadows...... They are just buying VOTES............ THEY ARE ABOUT TO GIVE AWAY YOUR JOBS !!!
"How can we give the illegals citizenship they are breaking our laws. Before they could even be considered for citizenship they should return to their countries and get in line for legal entry to this country."
I understand your rationale, although it is bigotted to high heaven, but how would you deal with the children who were born in this country, but there parents entered the country illegally? Do you intend on splitting up families? Please explain that to me.
Sen Cruz is the pied piper leading Republican followers down the road to disaster. The Republican Party will disappear into irrelevance if it stands in the way of immigration reform.