Republicans fight over immigration reform leading up to the Nevada caucus

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at a rally in Las Vegas, Monday Feb. 22. Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong - Associated Press

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at a rally in Las Vegas, Monday Feb. 22. Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong - Associated Press

Mollie Putzig

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Ted Cruz takes hardest stance yet on immigration

Right before the Nevada caucus, Sen. Ted Cruz struck out to bypass Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump in a race to be the toughest candidate fighting illegal immigration.

Cruz added to his stance that we should build a wall and triple border patrol, saying we should seek out and deport undocumented immigrants. Seeming to contradict his statement to CNN in January, saying he wouldn’t send “jackboots” knocking on doors because we aren’t living in a police state.

When asked if he would go looking for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally in a Fox News interview Monday, Cruz said, “That’s what I.C.E. exists for,” referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “We have law enforcement that looks for people that are violating the law, that apprehends them and deports them.”

Cruz says he is the staunchest candidate when it comes to immigration laws because he would not let any deported immigrant reenter the country through legal channels. Whereas Trump says he would let “the good ones” back in.


Marco Rubio takes a gentler approach

Rubio doesn’t believe the American people want militarized roundup and deportation of undocumented immigrants. In an interview with Fox News Tuesday, he said that once the U.S.-Mexico border is secured, he thought Americans would respond rationally and reasonably.

When asked about his view of a responsible way of managing undocumented immigrants, Rubio said: “If someone has been here for a defined period of time, they can pass a background check, if they’ve committed crimes they can’t stay. They have to pay a tax, they have to start paying taxes. They’re going to have to pay a substantial fine because they violated the law.”

Under those conditions, he would grant immigrants a work permit so they could live, work and travel in the U.S. legally.


Trump wins Nevada caucus

Entrance polls show Nevada Caucus voters want someone outside politics more than any caucus state thus far. Never having held a political seat, Trump fits the bill.

In a state where 19 percent of the population was born outside the U.S., Trump took a solid lead with 45.9 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s caucus. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz came in second and third respectively with 23.9 percent and 21.4 percent, according to CNN.

Of the 8 percent of Nevada’s GOP electorate that identify as Latino, 45 percent planned to back Trump, according to entrance polls, despite his hardline stance on immigration.

Trump celebrated the diversity of his supporters in his victory speech.

“We won the evangelicals,” he said. “We won with the young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”

Reports of disorganization, caucus sites running out of ballots, inadequately trained volunteers and poll workers wearing Trump paraphernalia (which is not against any rules), led to reports of violations on Twitter, but the GOP said no official complaints have been filed.

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