From the December 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
BRET BAIER (HOST): One of the big back-and-forth moments between you and Senator Marco Rubio was on immigration. Many people said you scored some points against MarcoRubio there. You also said though, and it has been checked today, at the debate, that you denied that you've ever supported legal status for undocumented immigrants. You said, quote, “I've never supported legalization, I do not intend to support it.” But back in 2013 you did support an amendment, and back when you were making the case, this is what you said.
Now that amendment would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. permanently and obtain legal status, so how do you square that circle?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Actually, Bret, it wouldn't have. What was happening there is that was the battle over the Gang of Eight, the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, which was a massive amnesty bill proposed by Senator Rubio, by Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama. And I was leading the fight against amnesty. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Steve King, leading the fight to secure the borders, and what I did -- that particular amendment was an amendment I introduced to remove citizenship, to say those who are here illegally shall be permanently ineligible for citizenship. Now, the fact that I introduced an amendment to remove part of the Gang of Eight bill doesn't mean I support the rest of the Gang of Eight bill. The Gang of Eight bill was a mess, it was a terrible bill.
BAIER: Well, wait a second, Senator. That's not what you said at the time.
CRUZ: And what the Rubio campaign is trying to claim is well gosh --
BAIER: That is not what you said at the time. Yahoo dug up these quotes from back then. You said, "'If this amendment were to pass, the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically.' A few weeks later, during a debate on the senate floor, Cruz repeated his belief that this amendment is the compromise that can pass." And you repeated later in Princeton that “If my amendment were adopted, this bill would pass.” It sounded like you wanted the bill to pass.
CRUZ: Bret, of course I wanted the bill to pass -- my amendment to pass. What my amendment did --
BAIER: You said the bill.
CRUZ: -- is take citizenship off the table, but it doesn't mean, what it doesn't mean is that I supported the other aspects of the bill, which was a terrible bill and Bret, you've been around Washington long enough, you know how to defeat bad legislation. Which is what that amendment did is it revealed the hypocrisy of Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats and the establishment Republicans who were supporting them, because they all voted against it. And listen, I'll give you the simplest proof why this notion that my fighting amnesty somehow made me a supporter of amnesty. Jeff Sessions voted with me on my amendment to eliminate citizenship. Now is anyone remotely suggesting that Jeff Sessions supports amnesty? Of course not.
BAIER: Of course not.
CRUZ: We were fighting side by side --
BAIER: Now, the problem though, Senator --
Cruz: -- to defeat Marco Rubio's amnesty, and we succeeded, we defeated it.
BAIER: The problem though is that at the time you were telling people like Byron York with The Washington Examiner that this was not a poison pill. You told him, “My objective was not to kill immigration reform.” You said you wanted it to pass at the time, so my question to you is looking back at what you said then, and what you're saying now, which one should people believe?
CRUZ: What the amendments I introduced -- I introduced five amendments, a whole series of amendments. What they did is they illustrated the hypocrisy of the Democrats. They showed that it was a partisan effort, and they succeeded in defeating the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill. And I got to tell you Bret, the biggest news on immigration last night came that after five debates, Senator Rubio finally admitted not only was he for the Rubio-Schumer amnesty proposal, but he still supports amnesty today. And he said that on English-language television, not just Spanish-language television. He said last night, for the first time, he supports amnesty, he supports citizenship for 12 million people here illegally. I think that's fundamentally wrong and it's one of the really sharp divides. And let me make a second point, Bret. You know at a time when everyone's worried about national security, border security is national security. And what we talked about last night is the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill would have given Barack Obama blanket authority to admit tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, without requiring any meaningful background checks. That endangers our country. It makes us less safe. It's one of the reasons I think the debate last night had a number of moments of clarifying differences on policy that I think are helping Americans decide who's in best prepared to be commander-in-chief.
BAIER: Last night on this issue, and the last question on immigration, you said that Bill Clinton deported 12 million illegal aliens. You said George W. Bush deported 10 million. When you look at the DHS deportation numbers, there is removal, which is deportation, and then there is returned, turned away at the border. And the numbers are roughly a lot different than what you said. Is there a difference between the two? Removal and return?
CRUZ: Those numbers are a combination of both, it's both removal and return. And it was 12 million under Bill Clinton, it was 10 million under George W. Bush. And you know, lots of folks in the media, lots of establishment Republicans say, “Gosh, you know, we can't deport anyone.” Look, the president is obligated to follow federal law. We have a president right now, Barack Obama, who in 2013 released over 104,000 criminal illegal aliens, because Barack Obama refuses to follow the law. If I am president, we will follow the law. And I'll make a commitment to you. As president I will secure the borders, I will build a wall that works, I will triple the border patrol, I will stop catch and release, I will stop releasing criminal illegal aliens. We will stop welfare payments to illegal aliens. We will solve this problem. And the only thing that's missing is the political will. We have the legal tools to do it, but the problem is neither the Democrats nor the establishment Republicans want to solve this problem. I will solve the problem.