Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) unveiled legislation to shut down President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ program, and the bill is getting a mixed response among Republican colleagues.
Cruz offered his bill as a plan to end the border crisis — and the suffering that takes place south of the border as children travel to the United States — by thwarting Obama’s policy of acting as if the DREAM Act has already passed.
“The staggering conditions that children are being subjected to are a direct result of the amnesty that President Obama illegally and unilaterally enacted in 2012, which caused the number of unaccompanied minors to skyrocket,” Cruz said in a press release on the bill. “The only way to stop the border crisis is to stop President Obama’s amnesty. If we do not put an end to its expansion — to the promise of amnesty that is the reason so many are coming — then more little boys and girls will be trafficked, abused, and even killed. We have an obligation to make sure that not one more child is hurt by this president’s lawlessness.”
Some Republicans worry that Cruz’s bill, in this context at least, is a political loser. “Doing so in the midst of the current crisis could look like an overreach, particularly given how the mainstream media will distort it,” a House Republican leadership aide tells National Review Online. “We’re still waiting to hear from the Border Working Group, and nothing has been ruled in or out. Also, it’s certainly possible to deal with that issue legislatively at another time.”
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) kicked off the morning by accusing Cruz of trying to deport children who are “legitimately” in the country.
“Before Republicans help our Border Patrol agents and all the personnel that’s trying to do something to handle this humanitarian crisis, they want President Obama to deport the DREAMers who are already here, legitimately here,” Reid said. “These are children. But instead of considering a thoughtful, compassionate solution to a real-life crisis on our border, radical Republicans are trying to hold these kids ransom.”
An aide to the Texas freshman explained that his bill would not affect people who have already benefited from the DACA program. “Our bill doesn’t address people who have already received deferred action under DACA,” spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told NRO ahead of the bill’s release.
Cruz’s bill has the advantage of addressing the fundamental cause of the border crisis, as Republicans understand it.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), when he released his own plan to fix the border crisis, said that Obama’s “administrative legalization programs have encouraged tens of thousands of Central Americans to make the dangerous journey to the United States.”
House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) have also faulted Obama for creating the perception that Central American children who made it to the United States would be able to stay.
“It’s a crisis of the president’s own making — his actions gave false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they would be allowed to stay,” Boehner told reporters last week.
Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) introduced a plan to solve the border crisis, primarily by changing a human-trafficking law so that children from Central America can be removed from the country as expeditiously as children from Mexico or Canada. The bill didn’t address DACA, but he supported Cruz’s plan when it came out today.
“I think that’s the right answer,” Cornyn said Thursday, per Politico. “We need to send the message: ‘don’t come.’”