Young undocumented immigrants, beware: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz will unabashedly tell you to your face that if he’s president, he would deport people like you.
At a campaign event in Iowa on Wednesday, Ofelia Valdez — an undocumented immigrant brought to the country as a teenager from Mexico — explained to Cruz that she was covered under President Barack Obama’s executive action known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary deportation reprieve and work authorization to some undocumented individuals. Almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants have been approved by the DACA program since its inception in 2012.
But Cruz has previously stated that he would strip the DACA program using any means necessary, including leading a government shutdown. Valdez told the GOP candidate that she’s worried about the 2016 election’s potential consequences for her future.
“As a DACA holder myself, I worried about whoever comes next to the presidency and what’s going to happen to people like us,” Valdez said in the video uploaded by the Democratic Party. “I think of myself as a part of this community and you know, first day of presidency, you decide to deport, you know, people like myself, you know, it’s just very difficult to process it.”
With Rep. Steve King (R-IA) standing in the background, Cruz nodded through her explanation, then told her that there were consequences for breaking the law — like deportation.
“I would note, if you’re a DACA recipient it means that you were brought here illegally, and violating the laws has consequences,” Cruz said. “And one of the problems with our broken immigration system is that it is creating human tragedies and there are human tragedies when people break the law.”
Cruz told Valdez that if he illegally immigrated to other countries, they would also deport him. “That’s what every other country on Earth does, and there’s no reason that America’s laws should have less respect than the laws of every other country on Earth,” he said. “We should welcome people who come following the laws, but there are consequences for breaking the laws, and that is part of what makes America the nation that we are.”
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Cruz didn’t sympathize with Valdez. He recently noted that he would deport and keep out the undocumented population from re-entering the country — going one step further than frontrunner Donald Trump, who has suggested that he would let the “really good people” back into the country at some point. In October 2015, Cruz justified to an audience of mostly religious leaders that his stance on immigration didn’t go against Biblical teachings, stating, “The fact that we lock our doors doesn’t mean we hate our next door neighbors” before discussing his support for border security and preventing undocumented immigrants from entering the country.
And during the height of a major increase of unaccompanied Central American children fleeing gang violence and poverty showing up on the southern U.S. border in 2014, Cruz stated — while standing near a temporary shelter set up in McAllen, Texas — that he would deport the children as quickly as possible.
Other immigrants have had similar, awkward exchanges with lawmakers on the issue of immigration. During a confrontation with two other DACA recipients in 2014, King said, “It troubles me a great deal that you have such disrespect for the laws of the United States of America. You’re telling me that you don’t have to abide by the laws.” In 2013, two teenagers approached former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in a Washington, D.C.-area diner to ask him to stop deportations. And former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) once brushed off a young girl who asked him to help her undocumented father.