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The Real “Poison Pill” on Immigration is for the GOP to Follow Ted Cruz’s Advice

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Appearing on Sean Hannity’s radio show earlier this week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) stated:

I think the reason that President Obama is insisting on a path to citizenship is that it is designed to be a poison pill to scuttle the whole bill, so he can have a political issue in 2014 and 2016.  I think that’s really unfortunate.

Senator Cruz also called legislation with an earned citizenship provision “a political football rather than actually trying to fix the problem.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

The real poison pill is for the Republican Party to follow and swallow Ted Cruz’s anti-immigrant prescription for the GOP. Take his advice, and Sens. Cornyn and Cruz will be last GOP senators in an increasingly blue Texas.  Take his advice and the GOP won’t win back the White House for a generation. If Cruz actually wants to ‘fix the problem,’ he would know that earned citizenship has strong public support and is an essential first step in the Republican Party’s attempt to repair its relationship with Latino voters.

Rather than being a “poison pill,” as Cruz asserts, citizenship is the mainstream position in the immigration debate (see these poll recaps of recent public opinion on the topic).  Resurgent Republic, a Republican-allied public opinion research group, found in recent focus groups with Republican voters in Iowa and South Carolina that even GOP base voters would be open to reform with citizenship, finding that “[a] pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is acceptable to Republican primary voters if it is an earned process and fair to those who are already legally in the system.”

Analysis and polling show that Latino voters are closely tracking the immigration debate, view citizenship as an essential component of reform, and are already primed to blame – or credit – Republicans based on how they handle the immigration debate.  With an estimated 2.1 million eligible Latino voters not yet registered to vote in Texas, and high-profile efforts underway to turn Texas purple and then blue, perhaps Senator Cruz should remember his own words.  Last year, he told Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, “If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community, in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state…If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes.  The Republican Party would cease to exist.  We would become like the Whig Party.”