By Alex Gonzalez
On Tuesdays, Ted Cruz rejected the Republican House Bill to fund the “border crisis.” The Reason? He was disappointed that the House did not include language prohibiting expansion of President Barack Obama’s deferred action policies. Cruz has urged House and Senate Republicans to rally around his proposal to attack Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, which shelters many young people from deportation.
Some House “hard liners” like Steve King (R-IA) Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in the Senate, have pressed to have a vote on ending DACA. However, GOP leaders didn’t indicate Tuesday in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans that it was better to “keep this bill targeted on this particular crisis,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) “We’re trying to make sure we can get the votes without overreaching.”
Cruz has urged House and Senate Republicans to rally around his proposal to attack DACA. However, most of this hard line anti-Dreamers language has no policy direction as much it is “read meat” to keep anti-immigration reform tea party groups energized in Texas; but this is merely a ‘distraction” as Sen. Marco Rubio said last week.
But Cruz hopes these “hard line” views eventually will lead to a “civil war” in Texas politics between hardened tea partiers vs. the pro-business and pro-reform Republican “establishment” that traditionally have supported Dreamers with Republican policies; and because Republicans in the state understand that soon Texas’s Hispanics will be the majority. Evidently, Republicans in Texas are thinking long-term. So helping incorporate Dreamers into Texas economy has always been part of Republican Texas agenda; and top Republicans leaders like Gov. Rick Perry in the state had supported Dreamers consistently. We all remember the “I don’t think you have a heart” comments by Perry in defense of Texas’s Dreamers.
Hence, Republicans in Texas have traditionally dealt with Dreamers in a subtle way because they acknowledge that, for the most part, Dreamers are already part of Texas’ families and business, and they are indeed Texans at heart. And to deal with this sensitive issue, Republicans in the legislature have crafted many education policies, under Rick Perry, aimed at helping Dreamers, even before DACA was part of political bickering.
However, by reaffirming publicly his extreme views on immigration to tea party base, Ted Cruz is forfeiting the Latino Vote and business community, and drawing clear distinctions between him and Rick Perry for a possible presidential race to guarantee that Cruz will be anti-amnesty candidates in a presidential race where Perry already holds the lead in a presidential race thanks to the current “border crisis.”
Therefore, this extreme position by Cruz on immigration is obviously taken to split the Republican Party between the Texas Republican establishments that holds a pro-reform pro-Hispanic attitude, and possibly to use it against Rick Perry who has a solid record of supporting Dreamers. Using Dreamers to keep tea partiers energized, and it also means the Perry will be blamed for other bills like In-state-tuition, the Top Ten Percent, and $10,000 B.A.s, all bills signed by Perry aimed at helping young Latinos, which included Dreamers.
Radicalizing these tea party groups on immigration likewise means that Rick Perry will be on the defensive on a presidential race, and have smaller base of fan among tea partiers, while Cruz may be perceived as the anti-Amnesty leader by holding extreme views on immigration; and he might be right because generally this tea party base is made of mainly groups that care more about ideological “hot-rhetoric” than policy formulation, or bringing in Hispanic into the GOP.
Ted Cruz may assume that by splitting the GOP on this sensitive hot topic in Texas the tea party will still be energized in 2016 in case he runs for President, or in 2018 when he runs for re-election, especially in a Republican primary.
This divide-and-conquer strategy has some merits because as it occurred at Republican Convention in Fort Worth, some extreme anti-reform elements of the Party have taken over this issue and they do drive the agenda, as it was revealed in the Party Platform passed at the Convention.
While Republicans know how sensitive the Dreamers-DACA issue is for Latino voters and the future of the Party, Cruz sees it as an opportunity to cement his position as the eminent anti-Amnesty tea party leader that will be taking on all the pro-Dreamers Republicans like Rick Perry.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote!