Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both impressed audiences in the last debate. Senator Rubio’s positions on immigration are discussed frequently, but Senator Cruz is normally viewed as an immigration restrictionist – an unfair characterization. It’s more important to look at Senator Cruz’s actions when he offered amendments to the 2013 “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) than it is to cherry-pick a few quotes. Senator Cruz did end up voting against S. 744, but only after he offered many amendments.
Senator Ted Cruz was a tremendous supporter of skilled immigration and supported massively expanding the size of those programs, even beyond what was proposed in S. 744. He offered four amendments (1324, 1326, 1586, 1587), to expand the number of employment based green cards to over a million annually. Senator Cruz offered two amendments (1325 and 1585) to increase the number of H-1B visas issued annually to 325,000 while S. 744 allowed an upward bound of 180,000 annually (with some upward adjustments possible). In other words, Senator Cruz’s amendment intended to practically double the number of H-1B visas over that which was proposed in the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill. Amendment 1587 also increased the number of H-1B visas and employment based green cards. Senator Cruz’s amendments would have also allowed the spouses of all H-1B visa holders to work legally – going beyond President Obama’s actions to increase work eligibly for those spouses. Expanding the number of green cards and H-1B visas for skilled workers would have been a tremendous boost to the U.S. economy.