“It’s not that we don’t know how to solve illegal immigration. What is missing is the political will to get it done. And, as president, I will get it done. We will secure the borders.” – Ted Cruz
We have a serious immigration problem in America. The American people understand that we must reverse the policies that invite criminals and terrorists to defy the law, allow manipulation of our generous immigration system, and reward illegal immigrants for their actions. Sadly, while the Obama Administration ignores our immigration laws and abuses its executive authority, the Washington Cartel refuses to stand up and insist that the law be followed.
We see proof of Washington’s immigration failure every day. Across this nation, there are roughly 340 sanctuary jurisdictions, each of which is led by politicians who ignore federal law and endanger our children. Their lawlessness has been encouraged over the last seven years by President Obama, who has repeatedly tried to amend our immigration laws by fiat. He has issued no fewer than 20 unilateral directives through his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to evade the law, often benefiting illegal immigrants at the expense of taxpayers and legal immigrants. Perhaps the only thing worse than President Obama’s dictatorial behavior is Congress’s utter failure to even try and stop him. This lawlessness must end, and it must end with the next President.
During my time in the United States Senate, I have consistently led the fight to stop President Obama’s unconstitutional immigration actions. When Establishment Republicans teamed up with Democrats to reward millions of illegal immigrants with amnesty, I engaged millions of men and women across the country. Together, we defeated President Obama’s attempt to pass amnesty, and we continue to lead the fight against congressional leadership each time it seeks to undermine the will of the American people.
A strong President can and must secure the border. Under current law, there is more than enough legal authority to do so; what is missing is the political will. In the Senate, I have stood consistently with the majority of Americans against amnesty and lawlessness, and I will do the same as President. I give you my solemn word that, if I am elected President, we will use that authority to secure the border, and to restore the value of American citizenship and the Rule of Law.
To strengthen national security, enhance the value of citizenship, and stop illegal immigration, we must take three steps:
- First, secure the border, once and for all. No other reform is meaningful if we do not fix our porous southern border.
- Second, strengthen and enforce our existing immigration laws. We must reverse President Obama’s enforcement “priorities,” which allow a large number of criminal aliens to unlawfully remain in the United States.
- Third, pursue reforms to the legal-immigration system that will prioritize the interests and well-being of Americans. As a nation built by those fleeing persecution and seeking freedom, we must once against welcome and celebrate legal immigrants while at the same time protecting American jobs and interests.
The following outlines my plan to stop illegal immigration, restore the Rule of Law, and reform our legal immigration system to protect Americans.
“We stopped the Gang of Eight bill. Ted Cruz led the fight against the establishment. We would be living under amnesty right now if Cruz had not succeeded.” – Rush Limbaugh
1. Secure the Border
A Cruz Administration’s first priority for immigration reform will be to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. It is a travesty that the greatest nation in the world refuses to take even the most basic steps to prevent illegal immigrants from breaching its southern border. The porous border invites illegal crossings, exposes millions of American citizens to crime and economic harm, endangers the lives of those who make the treacherous journey at the mercy of cartels and coyotes, and represents perhaps the United States’ single greatest national security vulnerability in the post-9/11 era.
To regain control of our border, a Cruz Administration will:
- Build a wall that works. The unsecured border with Mexico invites illegal immigrants, criminals, and terrorists to tread on American soil. Millions of people from all over the world, including from hostile nations and terrorist havens, have been apprehended at our southern border – and many who make it through are never caught. This is a failure of the highest order. I will fulfill the promise Congress made to the American people almost 10 years ago by completing all 700 miles of priority fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, and dedicate the resources necessary to replace all single-layer fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border to build a fence that keeps people out and that is technology-supported and law enforcement-accessible. If other nations, such as Israel, can build an effective border wall, the United States certainly can.
- Triple the number of Border Patrol agents. Since the federal government is primarily responsible for securing the border, we must allocate sufficient human resources for the task. In 2013, I introduced legislation to triple the number of Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border. When Congress sends me this bill, I will sign it and make more boots on the ground a reality.
- Increase vital aerial surveillance. Adding boots on the ground is not enough. To truly protect our southern border, the men and women who serve in the Border Patrol need eyes in the sky, both to help them function more efficiently and to avoid being harmed by those who mean them harm. In 2013, I introduced legislation to increase fourfold the number of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft that are deployed to the border to ensure valuable reconnaissance and protection for our Border Patrol. I will continue to press for this to become law.
- Provide additional equipment and technology along the border. Improved technology has a tremendous impact on border security. Increasing the number of cameras, sensors, and monitors will allow Border Patrol to surveil the border continuously and identify and apprehend illegal entrants efficiently and safely. In 2013, I introduced legislation to increase the amount of state-of-the-art technology available for border security, and as President, will deliver on this commitment.
- Finish the biometric tracking system at our nation’s ports of entry. Amazon and FedEx can track packages around the world with down-to-the-minute precision. Google can provide street-view maps of almost any address in the country. It is unacceptable that our federal government cannot keep track of the foreign nationals who have entered the United States, particularly when millions of illegal immigrants currently in the United States entered legally but overstayed their visas – as several of the 9/11 hijackers had done.It is past time for the federal government to fully implement a biometric tracking system so that we have full awareness of who is on American soil at all times. Since 1996, Congress has “required” full implementation of an entry-exit system at all of our ports of entry, yet multiple administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have refused to follow that law. In the first 100 days of a Cruz Administration, those who have broken the law will be held accountable, regulations that stand in the way of finishing the system will be eliminated, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will complete implementation by the end of my first year in office.
- Hold DHS accountable to the American people. Under the Obama Administration, DHS has failed to perform core national security tasks. The Department of Homeland Security must be able to fulfill its obligation to American citizens, and its officials must be held accountable. I will:
- Hire the right people: Appoint a no-nonsense, security-focused leader as Secretary of Homeland Security, and instruct the Secretary to transfer DHS personnel and resources as needed to best protect the American people.
- Let them do their jobs: Empower the Secretary to remove DHS employees who refuse to abide by the law, and replace them with dedicated men and women committed to securing our nation. Bureaucratic failure and willful ignorance of the law will no longer be an option.
- Work with the states: Reverse the Obama Administration’s policy of preventing state and local governments from participating in immigration enforcement, and instead partner with the states so they can assist with immigration enforcement and border security. Increase the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to ensure that ICE has the manpower to support state and local enforcement efforts. And fully fund the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program to help finance the efforts of local governments actively assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
2. Restore the Rule of Law
President Obama, aided and abetted by a Congress that ignores its constitutional and moral duties, has abused his executive authority and refused to enforce the immigration laws that are currently on the books. These failures undermine immigration enforcement and endanger the American people. We need a President who will follow the law, hold those who break it accountable, and take seriously the duty to protect Americans. To restore the Rule of Law, a Cruz Administration will:
- End President Obama’s illegal amnesty. The Obama Administration has issued at least 20 executive memoranda over the course of his two terms in office that grant amnesty, ignore the law, and worsen our immigration problems. He has rewarded millions of illegal immigrants with a promise that our laws will not be enforced against them, and that they will be allowed to stay in the United States without consequence – and, in fact, receive benefits funded by American taxpayers. And to compound it all, DHS is using the fees it charges legal immigrants to fund the President’s unlawful amnesty program. I will:
- Stop the lawlessness: Shut down President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty on day one. I will end the lawlessness with the stroke of a pen.
- End the amnesty slush funds: Push for passage of the Immigration Slush Fund Elimination Act, end the perverse revenue incentives that undermine our national security, and see to it that the fees paid by legal immigrants go toward supporting legal immigration only, to improve and streamline such immigration.
- Follow the Constitution: Use every ounce of my constitutional authority and executive discretion to ensure DHS enforces the law instead of violating it.
- Restore enforcement capacity. During President Obama’s seven years in office, we have seen DHS’s immigration enforcement budget expand dramatically while immigration enforcement has plummeted. This failure has resulted in more illegal immigrants in the United States, more threats to public safety, more taxpayer dollars wasted. I will:
- Enforce the law: Restore our commitment to enforcement and public safety and the Rule of Law by rededicating DHS to fully enforcing the law, including through deportations and returns. During the first five years of the Obama Administration, President Obama removed or returned only 3.8 million illegal entrants. That is a fraction of the removals and returns during the previous five years, and a fraction of what we could accomplish if we had a President who actually forced DHS to do its job and removed politics from an agency charged with law enforcement. As President, I would do just that.
- End catch-and-release: Return illegal immigrants who are caught at our borders and ports to their countries of origin. Currently, most immigrants who are apprehended at the border are let into the United States, given a ticket, and told to show up to court in the future. Not surprisingly, most of these illegal immigrants are never seen or heard from again. This backwards policy, known as “catch-and-release,” is naïve, dangerous, and expensive in the long run. From the outset, I will end catch-and-release on our southern border and at our ports of entry. People who are apprehended trying to enter the United States without permission will be detained until they are removed from the United States.
- Add detention space for interior enforcement: Support ICE agents and their enforcement efforts by significantly increasing permanent detention capacity for illegal immigrants in the interior of the United States, and give ICE leadership the flexibility to procure additional, temporary detention space from the General Services Administration and state and local law enforcement on an as-needed basis. The Obama Administration has limited detention space for illegal immigrants who are taken into custody to limit the ability of ICE agents to detain illegal immigrants and begin the process of deportation. I will end that practice.
- End sanctuary policies. According to current estimates, there are 340 sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States, and each threatens the safety of Americans. The violence against American citizens by illegal immigrants is the direct result of negligent enforcement policies. These are promoted mostly by Democrat state and local officials, and they provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, including hardened criminals who have been deported repeatedly.Kate Steinle’s murder by an illegal immigrant earlier this year is a tragic example of what happens when a government defies the law. Her murderer told police that he had chosen to live in San Francisco precisely because he knew that local officials would not cooperate with immigration laws.This federally subsidized lawlessness must end. As President, I will:
- Sign the Stop Sanctuary Cities and Protect Americans Act: Urge Congress to pass this law, which I co-sponsored and which will withhold law enforcement funds and community development block grants from sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities.
- Strip other sanctuary funding: Task the Attorney General and Secretaries of Homeland Security and Treasury to identify and withhold all additional federal funding that can legally be withdrawn from sanctuary jurisdictions.
- Stop criminal immigrants. Peaceful, law-abiding immigrants will be welcomed in the United States, but criminal immigrants will not receive quarter. A Cruz Administration will:
- Find criminal immigrants: Instruct the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify all criminal illegal immigrants in state or local custody and issue detainers for those illegal immigrants while their deportations are processed.
- Deport criminal immigrants: Recommit the federal government to deporting all illegal immigrants who commit crimes – and make use of all available tools to deport criminal immigrants as quickly as possible.
- Prosecute criminal immigrants and sign Kate’s Law: Prosecute all criminal immigrants who have previously been deported to the fullest extent possible, and urge Congress to pass Kate’s Law, which I authored in the Senate and which will impose a five-year mandatory minimum for aggravated felons who illegally reenter the United States.
- Regain control of immigration courts: Ensure that federal administrative judges handling immigration cases operate effectively and prioritize deporting illegal criminals. And increase the number of immigration judges and prosecutors to ensure that enforcement efforts are honored by adjudication of immigration-law violations.
- Encourage state and local support of federal immigration law. State and local law-enforcement authorities should be empowered to partner with the federal government in the protection of their cities and their citizens, not penalized for reinforcing federal laws. A Cruz Administration will:
- Get states involved: Instruct the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to provide opportunities for state and local assistance in immigration enforcement, such as by expanding the number of agreements between ICE and state and local law-enforcement agencies allowing designated officers to perform immigration law-enforcement functions (so-called “287(g) agreements”).
- Change federal law to help states: Authorize states and cities to enforce both federal and local laws relating to illegal immigrants, and push for the repeal of restrictions that interfere with local enforcement of federal immigration law.
- Share resources and information: Commit to sharing resources and information in order to ensure the successful enforcement of immigration laws at all levels.
- Prevent asylum abuse. Many illegal immigrants who are apprehended at the border are released into the United States based on questionable claims of persecution in their home countries. And many of those do not appear at their court proceedings to support their claims, are admitted into the United States with no accountability, and are never seen again. This lack of enforcement is unacceptable. We are a magnanimous country, but we must not be foolish. I will:
- Streamline asylum adjudication: Institute new standards that allow for summary dismissal of dubious asylum claims at our borders and immediate return of claimants to their home countries.
- Detain asylum applicants who are security or flight risks: Utilize the executive branch’s discretionary authority to ensure detention is enforced in all asylum cases. Detention of those making asylum claims will ensure rapid processing of legitimate claims and rapid deportation of false claims, and will go a long way toward discouraging those with bogus claims from attempting to come here.
- Criminalize visa overstays. It has been estimated that approximately 40 percent of the illegal immigrants currently in the United States originally came here legally, but are overstaying theirvisas. Although it is a federal misdemeanor to illegally enter the country, it is not currently a federal crime to overstay a visa. I will work quickly with Congress to change that. We will make it a misdemeanor for a first offense, and a felony for any subsequent offense, for any individual to be unlawfully present in the United States after the expiration of a visa. This will help us remove people who abuse our goodwill, deter others from doing so, and eliminate a major national security vulnerability
- Prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving financial benefits.On average, each household headed by an illegal immigrant in the United States receives over $14,000 in net government benefits per year, according to one study. This transfer of American taxpayer dollars to illegal immigrants entices further illegal entry. Under a Cruz Administration, illegal immigrants will cease receiving government benefits.
- Strengthen E-Verify. E-Verify – a federal program that lets employers verify the legal status of job applicants – is essential to ensuring that employers are not hiring illegal immigrants at the expense of hardworking Americans and legal immigrants. Despite E-Verify’s proven accuracy and success, Congress and President Obama have obstructed its availability. A Cruz Administration will:
- Treat E-Verify as a national security tool: Push to have E-Verify both permanently reauthorized in statute and deemed an essential national security screening tool, to ensure that it operates in the event of a lapse in funding.
- Require E-Verify for all federal contractors and subcontractors: Require all federal government contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify. Companies that refuse to use E-Verify will be barred from receiving federal contracts.
- Make E-Verify effortless for the private sector: Determine ways to expand E-Verify without burdening employers.
- Stop companies from deducting illegal immigrants’ salaries from gross income. Under current law, companies that violate federal law by hiring illegal immigrants to work for them may deduct the costs of illegal immigrant pay and benefits from their gross income at tax time. The Internal Revenue Service is basically providing a huge incentive to companies to violate immigration law. It is no wonder companies refuse to obey the law, especially in a lax enforcement environment. As President, I will forcefully pursue legislation, similar to Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) New Illegal Deduction Elimination Act, which will amend the Internal Revenue Code to prevent companies from deducting illegal immigrants’ salaries and benefiting from lawlessness.
- Require foreign countries to take back their deported citizens, nationals, and residents. Under current law, when a foreign government refuses to accept an alien who is a citizen, national, or resident of that country after a formal request by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State is required by law to order consular officers in that foreign country to discontinue granting immigrant visas or nonimmigrant visas until the country accepts the alien. The Obama Administration has completely ignored this provision, and allowed foreign countries to flout our law while enjoying access to the United States. Not only will I enforce this provision of law, but I will also work to withdraw foreign aid from countries that refuse repatriation.
3. Reform Legal Immigration to Protect Americans
We must continue to welcome and celebrate legal immigrants. For centuries, our nation has been a beacon of freedom for people around the globe. And it is the promise of America, and the people she has drawn to her shores since her founding, that have made this nation the greatest engine for growth and opportunity that the world has ever seen.
Under a Cruz Administration, we will keep the torch of liberty lit. But to do that, we must repair our immigration system so that it once again serves American interests and empowers people all over the world to pursue the American Dream. With this in mind, I will institute a series of reforms to strengthen our immigration system, protect national security, and spur economic prosperity.
- Develop a citizenship program that better serves Americans. Part of the problem with our current immigration system is that it no longer serves the American people. Many view it as a global-relief program. Priorities are given to people who come here illegally. National values and security are subordinated to political motives. A Cruz Administration will pursue legislation that would create a points-based immigration system to prioritize those who aspire to achieve the American Dream and will best contribute to the advancement and prosperity of our society. This legislation would evaluate the following factors:
- Formal education or training
- Valuable professional experience or trade skills
- Resources available to invest or create jobs
- Lifetime earning potential
- Civilian public service or military skills
- Language skills
- Ties to the United States
- Other skills, resources, or attributes that contribute to our nation
- Halt any increases in legal immigration so long as American unemployment remains unacceptably high. The purpose of legal immigration should be to grow the economy, not to displace American workers. Under no circumstances should legal immigration levels be adjusted upwards so long as work-force participation rates remain below historical averages.
- Enforce the public-charge doctrine. Current federal law requires legal immigrants and their American sponsors to certify that they will be economically self-sufficient. Despite this existing legal requirement, which is known as the public-charge doctrine, an estimated 49 percent of households headed by legal immigrants receive some form of government assistance. This is both illegal and unacceptable. America is a land of opportunity, but should not provide the opportunity to be subsidized by the American taxpayer. A Cruz Administration will require all legal immigrants and their sponsors to demonstrate by compelling evidence that they have the educational and professional tools to provide for themselves and their families.
- End birthright citizenship. It makes no sense for us to be providing the tremendous incentive of automatic citizenship to the children of those who enter illegally. Most nations on earth do not do so, and neither should we. Birthright citizenship was meant to ensure that the children of slaves were guaranteed citizenship. It was not meant to confer citizenship on the children of people who are here illegally; nor was it intended to confer citizenship on the children of birth tourists, a burgeoning industry that makes a mockery of American citizenship. As President, I will take immediate steps to pass legislation or a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship.
- Reform America’s foreign-worker programs to better serve Americans. Throughout the history of our nation, immigrants have come to the United States to work and prosper. Their story is our story. Indeed, many of our families, including mine, can speak personally of such opportunities. We want to attract the most talented and willing workforce, while being mindful that Americans are struggling to find good-paying jobs in the nation’s current economic malaise. Our doors should always remain open to those who seek a better life, but we need to ensure that our foreign-worker programs always serve American citizens first. I will always stand with the American worker.A Cruz Administration, in addition to modifying whom we allow to pursue citizenship, will take a hard look at our foreign-worker programs to ensure that they provide the most value to the American people. I will:
- Suspend the issuance of all H-1B visas for 180 days to complete a comprehensive investigation and audit of pervasive allegations of abuse of the program: Initiate an immediate 180-day investigation and audit of the H-1B visa program and enact fundamental reforms of this program to ensure that it protects American workers. In recent months, more and more reports have become public of companies replacing American workers with cheaper foreign workers, contrary to the stated intent of the H-1B visa program. This will stop, and the H1-B program will be suspended until we can be certain that the program is no longer being abused.
- Enforce existing federal protections for American workers: Conduct systematic audits of the companies that have taken advantage of the H-1B visa program during the last 15 years. All companies that have violated the terms of the H-1B visa program will be barred from using it for a period of years. The Attorney General will have authority to prosecute any individual found to have committed H-1B visa fraud, and offending companies will be suspended from receiving government grants and contracts.
- Amend the H-1B visa program to fulfill its original purpose: Work with Congress to pass reform legislation for the H-1B visa program that will:
- Create an advanced degree requirement: Only individuals with advanced degrees in their respective fields may be brought to the United States with an H-1B visa. And preference will be given to those with advanced degrees from American universities.
- Create a “layoff cool-off” period for all H-1B visa applications: Companies must wait one or two years between laying off a worker and bringing in any H-1B foreign workers to ensure that the program is not used to displace American workers.
- Establish accreditation or recognition requirements for overseas schools: The recent lack of federal oversight of the H-1B visa program has fueled a cottage industry of diploma mills. Foreign academic institutions must meet minimum accreditation standards at least as stringent as those imposed on American universities in order to qualify for the advanced-degree requirement.
- Require sworn affidavits describing domestic hiring efforts: Companies will provide sworn statements and documentation that detail their efforts to hire Americans before requesting foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. Individuals who make false statements in these affidavits will be subject to perjury charges.
- Suspend companies from H-1B visa eligibility for failure to help foreign workers obtain green cards: Many companies misuse the H-1B visa program to train foreign workers that they intend to send back overseas to compete with America. The law must impose additional requirements on employers to pursue Legal Permanent Resident status on behalf of their H-1B visa-based foreign workers, or risk loss of access to the program.
- Eliminate visa programs and strategies that do not serve national goals. Some existing entrance policies and visa programs do not support our long-term, national security, and economic interests. A Cruz Administration will:
- End chain migration: Allow entry only of immediate family or immigrants who qualify already for skills-based immigration. Current law allows the extended family of people who come to the United States to come as Legal Permanent Residents. This policy prevents more qualified candidates from entering the United States, and is not focused on the individual qualities of would-be Americans.
- End diversity visas: Eliminate the 50,000 “diversity” visas that are premised neither on skill nor family, but are distributed at random based solely on the race or nationality of an applicant.
- Prioritize persecuted religious minorities for refugee status. The turmoil in Syria has seen tens of thousands of refugees enter Europe, and the Obama Administration is in the process of admitting tens of thousands more into the United States without congressional involvement. This makes no sense. Under no circumstances should we be admitting thousands of refugees who pose significant risks of carrying out terrorism in America. Instead, we should prioritize refugee status for religious minorities, especially Christians, Jews, and others being systematically tortured and murdered by radical Islamists in Iraq and Syria today. As President, I will see to it that we focus future refugee relief on those persecuted for their faith, and will empower my Secretary of State to oversee this process.
- Modernize implementation of the legal immigration system to hasten economic growth. Part of welcoming people as citizens in the 21st century means upgrading the citizenship application process to reflect 21st-century technology. We will reduce bureaucracy, create a user-friendly online portal, respond to applicants within 60 days, and achieve a simpler and more transparent process. Rather than diverting funds from legal immigration to fund illegal amnesty programs – as the Obama administration is currently doing – we will direct those funds to improving and streamlining the legal immigration process, and welcoming and celebrating legal immigrants who respect the Rule of Law and come here to achieve the American Dream.