It is not surprising that some lawmakers instantly reacted negatively toward the bipartisan immigration reform proposal rolled out on Monday.

View of the Capitol (Ricky Carioti — The Washington Post)

But I must say I was disappointed, based on the praise he has garnered as a thoughtful man, by the response of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.):

I appreciate the good work that senators in both parties have put into trying to fix our broken immigration system. There are some good elements in this proposal, especially increasing the resources and manpower to secure our border and also improving and streamlining legal immigration. However, I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship. To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally.


For starters it doesn’t sound like Cruz or his staff read the proposal because the four-page plan goes to some lengths to spell out that illegal immigrants would not take priority over those waiting “in line” for green cards, let alone for citizenship. Moreover, Cruz is now a senator and needs to do better than a bumper-sticker slogan that reform is “inconsistent with the rule of law.” Does the current system respect the rule of law? Why is it “inconsistent with the rule of law” if people pay a penalty, jump through hoops and don’t cut the line? Maybe automatic citizenship with no conditions isn’t fair, but no one has proposed that.

There are many areas of disagreement on immigration, and there will be a healthy debate on a reform plan. And granted, Cruz has been in office only a few weeks, so maybe he hasn’t gotten his sea legs yet. But I don’t think he does himself, the debate or his party any good by making false statements and mouthing a platitude.

Cruz has said he would model himself, among others, on senators like Kentucky’s Rand Paul. Paul, whatever you think of his view (in favor of some legalization process), has spent some time thinking this through and sounds informed and reasonable on the subject. Shooting from the hip really doesn’t make Cruz look very smart, especially when so many senators are taking time to revisit and rethink immigration reform.

Senators who lash out now reveal that they aren’t interested in any serious reform. That’s fine, but then they take themselves out of the debate and make their own voices irrelevant.

If Cruz is, as I keep being told, a very smart man, he should kick it up a notch, especially on an issue as complex and volatile as immigration reform.

UPDATE (9:40 a.m.): In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made an important point that “first of all, there’s no such thing as a path to citizenship. What there is, is a path to permanent residency, a path to a green card. That’s what we have in this country. Nobody can come here and say I want to come in as a citizen. What you get is a green card, which you have to qualify for through a process of applying. Ultimately, if you have a green card, five years after you get it, you can apply for citizenship, which is something you have to qualify for. As you know, you have to pass an exam and a series of other things that you have to do. And there’s a wait for citizenship as well. And so what we’re saying, basically, is that we’re going to allow people access to the green card path, but only after a number of things happen.” It is perhaps too much to expect opponents of immigration reform to stick to the facts, but it is a sign of the weakness of their position when they distort the proposed plan so egregiously.