As the bromance between Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) continues to sour, Cruz attempted to put himself to the right of Trump on immigration by accusing Trump of being pro-“amnesty.”
“So Donald Trump’s position is once you deport them, it’s what’s called touchback. A lot of establishment Republicans had touchback,” Cruz said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Friday. “Basically you make them fly back to their country for a minute, touch the ground, and then they come back with amnesty as citizens. Now, Donald is entitled to do that. He can advance that position, but he doesn’t get to pretend that it’s not amnesty if he’s legalizing 12 million people [who are] here illegally.”
Trump, who has largely led the GOP 2016 pack since entering the race, has been widely viewed as inciting much of the anti-immigration rhetoric that has dominated the Republican primary, as he came out in favor of mass deportation and even ending birthright citizenship.
However, Cruz appears to be basing his current attack on remarks made by Trump earlier in the campaign that he would let the “good ones” back into the country after deportation and allow them to receive legal status through an “expedited process.”
It is not the first time Cruz has floated the attack line, but the criticism has sharpened since the rivalry between the two has heated up.
Speaking to ABC News this week, Cruz also suggested Trump has shifted on the issue.
“I would note at that time, right in the middle of the fight, Donald Trump was publicly supporting amnesty. He was supporting Marco Rubio’s Dream Act,” Cruz said. “He was criticizing Mitt Romney for being too tough on immigration. That’s where Donald Trump was in 2013. Now, when he launched his campaign for president, suddenly he discovered illegal immigration was a problem.”