Ted Cruz has not been shy about telling undocumented immigrants that they would be deported if he was elected President, even to their faces. But he had stopped short of saying that he would authorize federal agents to pull the undocumented from their homes and ship them out of the country—that is, until last night.
In an interview on his program, Bill O’Reilly drilled into Cruz’s planned immigration policy and extracted that Cruz would plan to use U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to actively search out and deport undocumented immigrants. The exchange began like this:
O’Reilly: Here’s a policy question I need you to define for me tonight: 12 million illegal aliens here in America. Mr. Trump says he would deport them forcibly, that federal agents would round them up and send them back home. Costs a lot of money but he says it’s worth it because we just can’t allow the law to be broken this way. Would you round up 12 million illegal aliens this way here and if so, how?
Cruz: Listen, we should enforce the law. How do we enforce the law? Yes, we should deport them. We should build a wall, we should triple the border patrol and federal law requires that anyone here illegally that is apprehended should be deported.
At this point, Cruz thinks he’s answering a fairly easy question and gives what passes for standard immigration policy among all the leading GOP candidates, which is that, yes, of course, illegal immigrants who are “apprehended” will be sent out of the country.
But O’Reilly stops Cruz to hone in on the concept of apprehension, and he quickly boxes Cruz into announcing a reversal of his previously stated beliefs:
O’Reilly: Would you go look for them, though? Mr. Trump would look for them to get them out. Would you do that if you were President?
Cruz: Look, Bill, of course you would. That’s what ICE exists for. We have law enforcement that looks for people who are violating the law that apprehends them and deports them. But Bill-
O’Reilly: Wait, wait, let me get this straight, because this is important, very important. So, and I use the same example: So Tommy O’Malley from County Cork, Ireland is over here and he overstays his Visa and he’s got a couple of kids and he settled into Long Island, and you, President Cruz, are gonna send the feds to his house, take him out and put him on a plane back to Ireland?
Cruz: You better believe that.
As various outlets have pointed out, all the way back in January Cruz told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he specifically opposed Donald Trump’s plan to create a “deportation force” to round-up the undocumented:
“No, I don’t intend to send jackboots to knock on your door and every door in America. That’s not how we enforce the law for any crime.”
Alas, Cruz finished 10 points behind Trump in Saturday’s South Carolina primary and neck-and-neck with Marco Rubio. With Jeb Bush dropping out of the race, establishment money will flow to Rubio, while Trump has seemed to regain his stranglehold on the lunatic base after stumbling out of the gate in Iowa. Cruz, who yesterday felt moved to fire his communications director for doing something his campaign has been doing all primary season, may be panicking.
Anyway, the best part of the interview is when you can see Cruz clearly realizing that O’Reilly is about to pin him:
Now, that’s some good Ted Cruz face.