By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 5, 2016: So we woke up on Tuesday morning to the news that one extremist had won over another in Iowa in the first Caucus of the Republican Party. Ted “Extremist” Cruz surprisingly trounced Donald “Extreme” Trump despite all the polls that had predicted otherwise. So much for polls and social media rantings!
Cruz from the early analysis seems to have won with fraudulent mailers, xenophobic warnings, his own calls to build a wall on the border, his continuous attempts at branding Marco Rubio and other GOP challengers with the “amnesty” brush and attacks on Trump’s “New York values.”
Yet in his victory speech, the Canada-born senator whose roots extend to Cuba, was quick to quote former President Ronald Reagan, who he has placed on his altar as the patron saint of modern day conservatism.
“Morning is coming,” said Cruz as he took the stage in Iowa to declare victory in the first 2016 Republican caucus in a barefaced attempt to compare himself to Reagan and his 1984 campaign slogan “Morning in America.”
And he added: “The message of a Reagan like landslide will drive the liberal elite and the Washington cartel into the Potomac and out to sea, never to be seen again.”
This coming from a guy who has chosen to embrace a man whose policies were far from xenophobic and definitely more pragmatic than conservative, especially as it related to immigration.
Reagan’s immigration policies were a far cry from Cruz’s hard line irrational plans that he pushes, includes the solution of a wall, that Trump made into the main thrust of his campaign plan.
Reagan’s policies on immigration by contrast were clearly pragmatic and some can argue even liberal. In fact, it was Ronald Reagan as President who signed the November 6, 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, into law.
This as Cruz would put it, gave “amnesty” to immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided here continuously without legal papers. Once they paid a fine and back taxes, admitted guilt and showed they possessed minimal knowledge about U.S. history, government, and the English language, they were allowed to be put on a path to legalization. No President since has been able to get a U.S. Congress to deliver such a reform.
Reagan was also very understanding of the relationship with the US’ Southern Border, Mexico and slammed the idea of a fence as ludicrous.
During the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, here is what he said during a debate with George W. Bush: “Rather than … talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back they can go back, and cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems. This is the only safety valve they have right now, with that unemployment, that probably keeps the lid from blowing off…And I think we could have a fine relationship.”
That’s right Cruz and Trump – even Reagan, the now revered God of Conservatives, laughed at the idea of “putting up a fence.”
And here was Reagan on the importance of giving the undocumented legal status.
“Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though some time back they may have entered illegally,” Reagan said at a presidential debate in 1984.
Contrast this with today’s Cruz and Trump’s racist rants against immigrants, immigration reform and the absolute irrational solutions of fence building and the talk of keeping certain immigrants out. Poor President Reagan must be literally turning in his grave!
For as he often said: “Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands. No free and prosperous nation can by itself accommodate all those who seek a better life or flee persecution. We must share this responsibility with other countries.”
Cruz and Trump may be well advised to adopt some class from the man they claim to embrace as their own Party voters recognize they will hardly be electable come November!
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.