Sen. Ted Cruz has spent hours since the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas defending his position on immigration.
As a matter of GOP primary politics, Cruz is in a strong position, having been consistently opposed to permitting the 11-12 million illegal immigrants that live in the U.S. to become eligible for citizenship. But Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, among his chief rivals for the Republican nomination, has managed to keep Cruz off balance on the issue, despite supporting a pathway to citizenship, by pointing out that Cruz had never (until now, apparently) ruled out simple legalization of illegal immigrants.
Since the Republicans faced off Tuesday on CNN, a debate has raged over whether Cruz has been a quiet supporter of legalization, short of citizenship, all along, or whether Rubio has been conveniently mischaracterizing the Texan's position to obsure his own support for a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants.
Based on Cruz's interview with the Washington Examiner on July 1, 2013, just a few days after Senate passage of the comprehensive "gang of eight" immigration bill that Rubio co-authored, it's not unreasonable to walk away thinking that Cruz supported the concept of legalizating illegal immigrants — at least back then — as long as the border is secured first and that legal status was not part of a broader pathway to citizenship.
At the very least, his position is far more nuanced than the simplistic opposition to "amnesty" that he tends to focus on in debates and on the stump.