There’s been quite a bit of drama surrounding the Marco Rubio – Ted Cruz exchange on immigration during the CNN debate and the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight immigration bill.

Bret Baier’s interview with Cruz following the CNN debate skirmish allowed Cruz to explain his rationale for proposing an amendment (one of several) that, had it been approved—and Cruz knew it would not be, would have legalized millions of illegals.

When Cruz explains his “poison pill” amendment, it becomes clear that he was being not only smart but also quite savvy (and ultimately, and all that matters to me, successful in quashing the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill).

The amendment that Rubio is touting is an amendment that included the stipulation that no illegal immigrant would ever get citizenship.  Under any circumstances.  Cruz obviously knew that Rubio and the other Gang of Eight members would never agree to such a proposition when a path to citizenship was a key driver in their bill.

I followed—very closely—the Rubio-Schumer immigration bill, and I recall a wide range of statements by Cruz against it.  He took action by setting up a petition and was often on cable news railing against it.  Here’s but one example:

That said, I have to also note that Cruz is not a fan of “comprehensive” legislation of any kind, including on immigration.  As I noted in August,

One of the reasons that there has been no action on illegal immigration for decades is not that there are tough questions to consider—such as what to do with the children of illegal immigrants who were born and / or raised here—but the fact that these questions tend to take center stage in any debate about closing the border or other piecemeal approaches to immigration reform.  This, in turn, causes a stalemate that perpetuates the status quo and gives both sides something on which to campaign.

In an attempt to break this stalemate, Cruz wants to take incremental steps that prioritize and address the questions associated with illegal immigration and immigration reform.  He states that he wants to start with the place where there is bipartisan support, and secure the border before having a debate about what happens next.

This is not only sensible but firmly in line with his conservative principles.  Generally speaking, or maybe even specifically speaking, we conservatives don’t like “comprehensive” legislation of any kind, either.  That way leads to ObamaCare and other nightmares it’s best to avoid.  Close the border, stop the influx of illegal immigrants (and terrorists), and then—and only then—we can talk.

One thing, however, is certain, and that is that Jeff Sessions, who was there and fighting against the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill the entire time, does not agree with Rubio’s revisionist history.

The New York Times reports:

But senators who were involved in the immigration fight said Mr. Cruz’s intentions were clear: He did not want to create an avenue to legalization so much as he wanted to sink the bill by striking out the path to citizenship. That would have been a nonstarter for the bill’s authors.

“This was an attempt to kill the bill,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and one of the bill’s authors. “And there was no doubt at the time that Senator Cruz knew it would do exactly that.”

Reinforcing this understanding at the time and speaking at a Daphne, AL rally on Sunday, Sessions vehemently rejected—is “flabbergasted” by—the very idea that Cruz was anything but in staunch opposition to the legislation.


Sessions states:  “One of the things you’ve been hearing about somehow is a criticism of Ted and how he and what he did with regard to this massive [immigration bill] that they tried to ram through in 2013,” Sessions said. “Let me tell you, I was there. Every step of the way, Ted Cruz was on my side and fought this legislation all the way through.”

Sessions makes an important point during this speech:  “This presidential election is going to decide who runs the White House: the crowd that pushed this legislation or the crowd that opposed it.”

And that, I think, is the crux of this issue . . . and, at least in part, of this election.