By Joe Schaeffer
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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was “policy board chairman” of a Hispanic group that said in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election that it was supporting GOP nominee John McCain because the Arizona senator showed more “courage and leadership” on pushing comprehensive immigration reform than Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
“It’s time to turn down the rhetoric and the highly-charged television commercials, and get down to the real facts,” said Jose Nino, Co-Chairman of the Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute, in a press release issued on Sept. 17, 2008, just weeks before the presidential election. “Voters deserve to know the truth on the critical issue of immigration reform, and let the chips fall where they may.
“While Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both have expressed their support for the doomed bipartisan immigration reform compromise that Congress rejected this Session, only one candidate remained true to his commitment – John McCain.”
The McCain-Kennedy immigration bill would have granted amnesty to an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the United States at the time.
The Hispanic Alliance statement praised McCain for his devotion to guest worker visas and excoriated Obama for working with unions to reduce that program.
“Virtually every Hispanic organization from the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) to the National Council of La Raza has recognized that Sen. John McCain risked his entire political career by defying much of his Party and supporting comprehensive immigration reform, including a Guest Worker Visa program,” Nino continued.
“Barack Obama, despite his promises of support, was absent from much of the debate on the compromise, then turned his back on the proposal, siding instead with organized labor on a series of ‘poison pill’ amendments that even his supporter, Sen. Edward Kennedy, opposed. Among the proposals Obama supported were amendments that would have cut the number of Guest Worker Visas in half, and would ultimately have killed the program after just five years.”
The left-leaning Daily Kos website published an article one week after the press release was issued that painted the group as Republican astroturf promoting corporate interests while claiming to support Hispanic hopes on immigration.
The article listed the group’s personnel as it was posted at the time on its now-defunct website. Under the section “Policy Board” the first name mentioned is “HON. Ted Cruz, Texas, Chairman.”
The organization seems to have scrubbed its entire existence off of the Internet, but the press release still appears at Hispanic Wire, part of the PR Newswire agency.
The Associated Press mentioned Cruz’s ties to the group in a February article but claimed the Alliance “opposed amnesty.”
“He was the smartest guy in the room and he contributed immensely to helping to craft the policy language around immigration reform,” Leslie Sanchez, co-chairwoman of the Alliance, told AP.
Hispanic conservative activist Robert G. de Posada, founder and past president of The Latino Coalition and a former Director of Hispanic Affairs at the Republican National Committee, wrote an op-ed piece for the Daily Caller in December that called out Cruz for being a member of the Alliance as it was heavily pushing the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill from 2005-2007.
“At the time, many conservative Latinos were being lobbied and pressured by HAPI members, including Mr. Cruz, to support McCain’s bill,” de Posada wrote.
“The Latino Coalition opposed McCain-Kennedy, supporting instead the conservative alternative bill authored by Senators Kyl and Cornyn. Many of us recall being on the receiving end of serious criticisms from HAPI and Mr. Cruz, for this decision.
“HAPI’s top legislative initiative during this time was the passage of the McCain-Kennedy bill, yet Mr. Cruz never issued a statement showing his disagreement or displeasure with HAPI’s lobbying efforts on this issue, nor did he resign from their Board.”
The Sept. 2008 press release from the Alliance fully backs de Posada’s account of the group’s vigorous support for the legislation.
“In the heat of the campaign, overheated rhetoric and campaign promises should never eclipse the truth – and when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, the truth is that Sen. McCain has shown courage and leadership, while Sen. Obama, despite his promises, ultimately sided with those who oppose comprehensive reform,” the statement concluded.
A pro-Cruz website noted in 2012 when the then-senatorial candidate was being heavily attacked from GOP primary opponent Texas Lt Gov David Dewhurst for his ties to the group and another Hispanic organization that the Hispanic Alliance had stated on its website that “The HAP Institute does not support amnesty nor have we in the past. We seek a productive dialogue from our leaders that will promote free market principles.”
According to a 2005 Washington Post editorial on McCain-Kennedy, “The bills’ authors argue that [their proposal] is not an amnesty, because it requires a recognition of wrongdoing.”
Which could explain why Cruz today states he never supported amnesty for illegal aliens.
Joe Schaeffer is a freelance writer based in Florida.