Cruz: GOP immigration plan is 'amnesty'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday blasted as “amnesty” a House GOP plan to give legal status to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally. 

“I think it would be a mistake if House Republicans were to support amnesty for those here illegally,” he said when asked about the proposal to be outlined in the House GOP's immigration principles.

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Other Republicans in the House who support the plan have gone to great lengths to push back on the idea that granting legal status would be amnesty. 

During a Bloomberg News breakfast, Cruz said the immigration focus should be on border security and streamlining legal immigration. He mentioned another proposal he supported to increase visas for high-skilled workers.  

“In my view we need to secure the borders, we need to stop illegal immigration,” he said. “And we need to improve and streamline legal immigration.”

The freshman senator opposed the comprehensive immigration package passed last year in the Senate, which would have created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The immigration principles to be debated during the GOP retreat in Maryland this week include a plan to offer probationary legal status to many illegal immigrants while border security is increased, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday. 

But Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, said the plan would not provide an automatic pathway to citizenship.  

“That is the kind of broad brush here — that is the kind of process we envision that is not a special pathway to citizenship, and it is not automatically, in any way, giving an undocumented immigrant citizenship,” Ryan said.

The plan would eventually allow those immigrants to get regular work permits and obtain green cards if the benchmarks on border security and interior enforcement are met.

The principles are also expected to call for a new guest-worker program, increased high-skilled visas and a path to citizenship for children brought to the country illegally. 

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