Ted Cruz says Texas’ migrant busing exposes hypocrisy of Democrats and media

Watch more video.

Having trouble viewing? Watch this video on texastribune.org.

As Republican governors transport migrants from Texas all over the country, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said the policies are exposing the hypocrisy of Democrats and the media on their stances on immigration policy.

During an interview Saturday with the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker at the Texas Tribune Festival, the Republican from Texas extended an invitation to his political adversaries and the media to visit the southern border, a trip he said they have been avoiding.

“It is utterly dysfunctional, and part of the reason why it happens is the press,” Cruz said. “I think we’ve got every reporter in America at TribFest. The press facilitates the Biden White House lying on this issue because they don’t cover it.”

In recent months, Gov. Greg Abbott and other GOP governors around the country have spent millions of dollars to bus or fly migrants from Texas and other border states to places like Washington, D.C.; New York City; Chicago; and Martha’s Vineyard. The relocations have drawn outrage from advocates who say the governors are using real people as pawns in a political fight. Meanwhile, Washington and New York have been overwhelmed as they try to find shelter for the migrants, who arrive without any warning from Texas or other states.

But Republicans have accused the Democrats of hypocrisy, arguing that they are now acting alarmed about migrants arriving in their communities after downplaying the idea of a crisis at the border.

[Ted Cruz denounces new gun restrictions as he argues with hecklers in Austin]

Painting a gruesome picture of the horrors he has seen at the southern border, including seeing images of children and elderly people dying in Texas after they’ve tried to cross, Cruz placed blame at the feet of President Joe Biden and Democrats who have “handed the agenda over to the radicals and the extreme.”

“What we are seeing on immigration has never happened in the history of the country,” Cruz said. “The reason South Texas, I think, is turning red is because they are seeing this chaos. You cannot see it and defend it.”

Cruz credited the administration of former President Donald Trump for largely solving the border issue but dragged the Biden administration for reversing course. In particular, Cruz said the “explosion” of illegal immigration was due to Biden halting construction of Trump’s border wall, reinstating the “failed” policy of “catch and release,” and pulling out of the “remain in Mexico” policy.

In fact, construction on the border wall has continued in some places under Biden. And while Biden took steps to undo the “remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum-seekers to cross back over at the southern border as they await their asylum proceedings, courts until recently barred him from doing so. The Biden administration announced in August that it would end the policy, but Title 42, a pandemic-era health policy that allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to rapidly expel migrants, remains in place for now.

Data suggests that migrant arrivals are breaking records — they have surpassed 2 million this fiscal year, according to government numbers. Border encounters in 2019 under Trump were around 1 million, and they dipped in half in 2020 — largely due to the pandemic.

“We went from the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years to the highest rate of illegal immigration in 62 years, and it happened overnight,” Cruz said. “And Biden could fix this problem tomorrow … reverse those three decisions.”

Cruz even credited the Obama administration for its record on deportation, saying the former president, often the subject of much scorn from the right wing, “actually enforced the law.”

But while Cruz said he is pessimistic about the potential for immigration solutions in the short term, partly because of the ongoing “political civil war,” he said he remains optimistic long term that a majority of Texans and Americans agree with him on immigration issues.

Cruz also sounded off on Trump, describing how he went from a harsh political opponent to a vocal supporter of the former president.

“For every Republican, that was a complicated decision: How do you deal with Trump? I made the decision that when he does things that are good and praiseworthy, I will praise him. And when he says things I disagree with, I am just not going to engage in the color commentary,” he said.

He said when Trump does something wrong, “there will be plenty of people on every TV station hyperventilating.”

“And I actually think the American people grew kind of numb to it,” he said. “Because if you look at the media for four years, everything he said and did was World War 3.”

Asked about his interest in the 2024 presidential election, Cruz suggested that he was waiting — like everyone else — to see whether Trump will run again.

“Everybody is waiting to see what Trump decides,” Cruz said. “And the reality is he is going to do what he wants to do. I don’t know if he is going to run for president. Nobody else does, either.”

Cruz said he was more certain about whether Biden will run for reelection. He won’t, Cruz said, and many of the top-tier of candidates who will line up to replace him were at the Tribune Festival, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Hillary Clinton, who said at the festival Friday that she won’t run for president.