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Advocates for illegal immigrant must have interrupted Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech to the Values Voters Summit on Friday more than a dozen times. The hecklers were calling on the Hispanic Texas Republican and potential presidential candidate to support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
In true Cruz fashion, he wittingly and repeatedly deflected the criticism, turning it into an attack against President Obama.
“How scared is the president?” Mr. Cruz said. “Oh, they don’t want the truth to be heard. They definitely don’t want the truth to be heard.”
The junior senator and magnet for controversy received some unsolicited help from the crowd, who attempted to drown out the protestors with chants of “USA! USA!”
Eventually, the protesters were drug out of the summit by security guards.
Sen. Cruz opposed the immigration reform bill that GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who also spoke at the summit on Friday. Rubio’s support gave life to the bill in the Senate, where it passed on a 68-32 vote, enjoying the support of 14 Republicans.
The GOP-controlled House has not yet taken up the bill, which would grant quick legal status and work permits to most illegal immigrants. But it would withhold a full path to citizenship until a number of border security benchmarks are met.
“The message we were trying to get to the Republican Party was that if they want to get Latino vote once again, they need to support immigration reform,” said Salvador Cervantes, who refused to give his group’s name to the press. “An immigration reform bill that gives legal status to people who are living without documents — good people.”
Carolina Canizales, 23, a member of United We Dream, who admitted to coming into the country illegally, but received legal status courtesy of President Obama’s non-deportation policies, said that Mr. Cruz has refused to listen to advocates of immigration reform.
“There is one reality that we are always having: There are 1,400 people being deported every day,” Ms. Canizales said. “Sen. Cruz is a Latino and should champion our population of Latinos.”