Cruz Won’t Send ‘Jack Boots’ to Deport 11.3 Million Illegal Immigrants
Policy + Politics

Cruz Won’t Send ‘Jack Boots’ to Deport 11.3 Million Illegal Immigrants

REUTERS/Joshua Lott

President Obama is taking heat within his own party for rounding up and deporting families that illegally entered this country over the past year, including sharp criticism from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities raided and detained 121 women and children in three states a week ago, partly in reaction to a surge last year of illegal border crossing by Central American children and families. Democrats on the presidential campaign trail and on Capitol Hill are urging Obama to show “moral leadership” by ending the deportations that would send many back to poverty and threats from gang violence in El Salvador and other Central American countries.

Related: Ted Cruz Wants to Be Tougher Than Trump on Illegal Immigrants

By contrast, most of the leading Republican presidential candidates have been vying to show who would be the toughest on the issues of illegal immigration and ridding the country of millions of illegal immigrants.   

Last week, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that while he and billionaire businessman Donald Trump both favor deporting all 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., they differed on at least one  point: Trump would allow some “good” deported immigrants to eventually apply to return to the U.S., while Cruz would not.

Trump launched his campaign for president with tirades against illegal immigrants, and stunned many last August by declaring that, if elected, he would round up and deport the millions of adults and children living illegally in the U.S.

Related: 5 Reasons the Trump Immigration Plan Doesn’t Pass the Reality Test

Trump outlined a plan to create an enormous force of federal agents dedicated to tracking down and deporting every illegal immigrant in the country. Many would be forced to take their U.S.-born children with them, despite the fact that those children are indisputably U.S. citizens.

Cruz, who is leading Trump in a tough race for primacy in next month’s Iowa GOP caucuses, abruptly softened his stand on mass deportation on Sunday, saying that he would not deploy a task force of immigration authorities and police that goes "door-to-door" to locate and deport those in the country illegally.

“No, I don’t intend to send jack boots to knock on your door and every door in America, that’s not the way we enforce the law for any crime,” Cruz said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. 

Related: Trump Would Fight Illegal Immigration with Economic Penalties

The freshman senator from Texas outlined several far less draconian approaches to gradually removing illegal immigrants. Those include putting in place a much stronger e-verify system to keep illegal immigrants from working; implementing an effective “biometric entry-exit system” to find those who have overstayed their visas; and finally much tougher action to arrest and deport illegal immigrants caught committing crimes. 

“We don’t have any system that knocks on the doors of every house in America,” Cruz said. “That is not how the American law enforcement system works. We also don’t have people door-to-door looking for murderers. We don’t live in a police state. We do have law enforcement. How do we catch people? We catch people through things like e-verify.”