The most common critique of our 2016 Presidential Hopefuls comparison grid this week has been of our amnesty rating for Ted Cruz. The Texas Senator has a mixed history on the issue, but we've given Cruz our second best rating of "Very Good".
There's one thing that's crystal clear about Cruz's position on offering work permits to illegal aliens -- he passionately opposes Pres. Obama's illegal and unconstitutional amnesties.
Just this week, Cruz tweeted a response to a Hillary Clinton tweet that criticized a federal appellate court's decision to uphold the temporary injunction placed on Pres. Obama's 2014 executive amnesties. Cruz wrote, "Amnesty is wrong for America and for the rule of law. Especially when done by illegal executive fiat."
But it has been Cruz's actions in the Senate that provide the best evidence of his opposition to amnesties. Perhaps nobody has fought harder than Cruz to stop amnesties in the Senate over the last three years.
Last summer, Cruz introduced a bill that would have defunded Obama's 2012 executive amnesties and tried to attach it to a continuing resolution that funded the federal government for several months. Cruz even threatened to shut down the government over the issue. "I think we should use any and all means necessary to prevent the president from illegally granting amnesty."
When that CR was about to expire, setting up the massive funding debate at the end of 2014, Cruz insisted that the bill funding most of the government for the rest of FY2015 include a defund of Obama's amnesties. Cruz went as far as raising a point of order objection against the so-called "CRomnibus" bill in an effort to defund the amnesties.
But what has many of our activists concerned about Cruz is an amendment that he offered to the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill in 2013. The amendment would have granted work permits to most of the 11 million illegal aliens once the feds had successfully completed the biometric exit-entry system, built 700 miles of fencing consistent with the Secure Fence Act of 2006, doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, and quadrupled the number of technology resources along the Southwest border, including cameras and motion sensors.
The border security requirements were so lofty that many in the media characterized the amendment as a poison pill since it contained much more border security than most Congressional Democrats could stomach. He also offered another amendment that would have kept the work permits in place, but would have removed the "path to citizenship" for most of the 11 million.
"The amendment that I introduced removed the path to citizenship, but it did not change the underlying work permit from the Gang of Eight," Sen. Cruz said.
Cruz has said on dozens of other occasions that he supports work permits for illegal aliens. So why the generous rating on our Presidential grade cards?
Our reasoning centers around a March 2015 MSNBC story, "Ted Cruz hasn't ruled out legal status for undocumented immigrants". A post on our Facebook page highlighting one of Cruz's earlier quotes expressing his support for amnesty prompted the story.
MSNBC was trying to catch Cruz in a flip-flop, but campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier best summarized his position.
"I think his main priority is dealing with the border security component and making sure that we know who is coming into the country and making sure that we have control over who is coming into the country and then we can deal with what to do with the people who are already here."
Most politicians, especially on the Republican side, answer the "amnesty" question from reporters with "we have to secure the border first".
But in Cruz's case, we know from his amendment exactly what he wants to do along the border -- 1) 700-miles of double-layered fencing, 2) massive increases in manpower and resources, 3) a full biometric entry-exit system.
Only after all three actions are in place, Frazier said, Cruz would "deal with what to do with the people who are already here". Notice, she doesn't say he'll automatically grant amnesty and dole out work permits. She simply says he'll consider it once all the improvements are in place.
In rating Ted Cruz, we've taken all of these actions into consideration. As Roy pointed out in his blog earlier this week, we expect Hopefuls to improve in certain categories as time goes on, and we allow them to improve. We believe that Cruz's actions in the Senate trying to stop Pres. Obama's unconstitutional amnesties combined with his most recent comments makes him Very Good on opposing work permits for illegal aliens.
Because of his past statements, we'll be watching Cruz very closely, as we will with all the other Hopefuls, to see if he's consistent on his position. His current rating on amnesty may be the most volatile of all the ratings of all the Hopefuls, but we think his initial rating is the right one.
Despite Cruz's VERY GOOD rating on amnesty, he earns an overall Worker-Protection Immigration Grade of only a "C". (Sadly, though, that C-Grade ties for third best grade among the 20 Hopefuls being graded.)
Remember, you can view ratings for all the Presidential Hopefuls at NumbersUSA.com/2016, and don't forget to click on each candidate's name to take a closer look at some of their quotes. And keep sending in those comments to elections2016@NumbersUSA.com. We had an earlier issue with that email address, but it is now working.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Feb 19th 2016 @ 10:38am EST