Senator Ted Cruz, in an interview with The Fine Print:

As the immigration debate begins before the full Senate for the first time, Sen. Ted Cruz has become one of the most vocal opponents to the current bill. But Cruz says the true obstacle to immigration reform is not him, but President Obama.

“The biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform is President Barack Obama,” Cruz tells The Fine Print, going on to say that the White House’s “insistence” on including a path to citizenship is standing in the way of the bill’s ultimate passage.

This is pretty silly: It’s akin to saying that Obama’s insistence on real immigration reform (which would include a path to citizenship) is putting Cruz’s preferred fake immigration reform (which would lack a path to citizenship) at risk. As Steve Benen puts it, the path to citizenship is “not some gratuitous, tangential provision — for the White House, it’s the point of the bill.”

Even better than this, in the very same interview, Cruz went on to undercut his own point in a way that perfectly captures what all of this is really about:

“The path the White House is going down, I believe, is designed for this bill to fail,” Cruz says. “It is designed for it to sail through the Senate and then crash in the House to let the president go and campaign in 2014 on this issue.”

Needless to say, if immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship is likely to “sail through the Senate,” then presumably it also has the support of a number of Senate Republicans. Which, of course, it does: Four GOP Senators on the “gang of eight” support it, including conservatives Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, as does Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. And the path to citizenship, in and of itself, is not expected to be an obstacle to the proposal’s chances of picking up the support of still more GOP Senators, who are primarily insisting that the border security provisions be strengthened to win them over.

What’s more, immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship is also supported by many major GOP stakeholders and GOP-aligned special interests, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to prominent members of the GOP consultant/strategist establishment. There are a variety of reasons for this, including the belief among many that modernizing the party’s position on immigration is essential to repairing the party’s relations with Latinos.

And yet, in the reality inhabited by the new Senator from Texas, the path to citizenship is a threat to the bill primarily because President Obama wants it. Thank you, Senator, for clarifying exactly what this is really all about.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.
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