By: Joseph Molina Flynn
As with most political elections of late, the question pressing on the minds of immigrants and their advocates is, “What will the next President do about immigration reform?” Current President, Barack Obama, focused both of his campaigns on providing a path to dignity for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.(1) Although he has not completely delivered, President Obama has made significant strides. During his first term as President, President Obama made DACA a reality thereby affording millions of undocumented young adults the opportunity to become productive members of society.(2) Now, during his second term, President Obama similarly tried to expand DACA and pass DAPA affording some of the same opportunities to parents and spouses of United States Citizens through a second executive action.(3) Both provisions are currently being litigated and their future remains uncertain.(4)
On March 23, 2015, United States Senator Ted Cruz (R.-TX) announced his candidacy for President of The United States.(5) In so doing, he became the first candidate to formally throw his name in the running for the next presidential election.(6) Already, his bid for president is being touted as a long shot.(7) Immigrants and immigration reform advocates need to think about what it would mean for immigrants if Ted Cruz were to become the 45th president of the United States.
Despite his Latino last name, Ted Cruz is a fierce opponent of immigration reform. In one of the most honest attempts to pass immigration reform in recent times, a group of senators (Republicans and Democrats) united to draft legislation which would change the immigration landscape. That reform would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States, speed up the process to obtaining valid status, while also increasing the availability of business based immigration, improving the e-verify system, and improving the guest-worker visa programs.(8) Even though staunch conservatives such as John McCain and Marco Rubio were part of the “gang of eight” who drafted the proposed legislation, other conservatives such as Ted Cruz were vehemently opposed.(9) Ted Cruz even went so far as launching a national petition against the proposed legislation.(10)
Ted Cruz’s opposition of the legislation was based on his belief that its focus was too heavy on the legalization of undocumented immigrants and not heavy enough on border security.(11) That these two ideas cannot coexist is indicative of the failure of a two-party political system to make strides in a field desperate for change. Thus, as we shift our focus to 2016, it is important to analyze how the candidates intend to bring our immigration system into the twenty-first century. The current system is broken and needs to be radicalized; what that radicalization looks like and who will be most affected has everything to do with the person we choose to fill the seat President Obama will vacate.
(1) See generally, Lukas Pleva, No Big Push in First Year, PolitiFact, (Aug. 13, 2010).
(2) See, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Immigration Equality, (last visited Mar. 24, 2015).
(3) Immigration Policy Center, Understanding Initial Legal Challenge to Immigration Accountability Executive Action, American Immigration Council, (Mar. 12, 2015).
(7) Why Ted Cruz Is Such a Long Shot, The Upshot, The New York Times, Mar. 23, 2015).
(8) 2013 Senate Immigration reform bill (S. 744) Summary/presentation notes, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
(9) See generally, Matthew Boyle, Jeb Bush Publicly Endorses “Gang of Eight” Amnesty Bill in New Hampshire, Breitbart, (Mar. 13, 2015).
(10) Tim Brown, Ted Cruz Blasts Gang of Eight’s Immigration Bill, Freedom Outpost, (June 21, 2013).