Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative Republican, gave his 2016 presidential campaign a good go. Cruz announced his candidacy in March 2015, ran as an outsider, and outlasted prominent GOP rivals, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. In the end, Cruz fell short, but based on his recent, patriotic Senate action, he could be poised to make a 2024 comeback effort.
If the 2024 Republican motto is “Trumpism without Trump,” then Cruz is well positioned. Cruz’s valiant block of a horrible immigration bill that threatened to pass via a clandestine unanimous consent voice vote should prove to the Republican Party’s movers and shakers that Cruz might be their most viable 2024 candidate.
Cruz blocked the fast-tracked Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act of 2020, H.R. 8428, brought forth by U.S. Rep. Phil Malinowski (D-NJ). The bill passed the House on unanimous consent which, translated from congressional mumbo jumbo, means that regular rules are suspended, and a voice vote is taken. If no one objects, then the bill passes – often in a chamber that is empty. Unanimous consent defined: cowardly congressional representatives meet secretly and muscle through unpopular legislation while the nation’s back is turned.
H.R. 8428 would have granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Hong Kong nationals currently living in the U.S. Since some earlier foreign national TPS recipients have resided in the U.S. for decades, the House bill would have been another immigration failure that would have expanded the labor market. Eventually, employment authorization documents would be issued. Once U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted Green Card status, the nation’s already-bursting population would increase through family reunification. Credit Cruz for stopping H.R. 8428 from becoming law.
An Immigration Reform.com analysis concluded that Cruz’s objection was two-fold. First, Cruz objected that the bill reached the Senate after the normal legislative process was skipped, and a rushed voice vote substituted. The House omitted the normal procedures that include committee review, committee vote and finally a full floor vote. Second, and more important to the American homeland, Cruz noted that if H.R. 8428 passed as is, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could more easily infiltrate the U.S. China possesses one of the world’s most advanced and effective intelligence operations that enabled it to place spies in the offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
Since the U.S. already admits tens of thousands of Chinese asylum seekers annually, then admitting Chinese nationals who would seek U.S. citizenship without following the established legislative guidelines increases the homeland’s risk. Cruz said that Congress “need(s) to have a substantive, bipartisan conversation about standing up for our allies and countering the Chinese Communist Party.”
Instead, the bill the House sent to the Senate significantly reduced the need for prospective asylees to identify how they were persecuted, a longstanding asylum requirement. Hong Kongese could, therefore, travel to the U.S., take advantage of the loosely written bill and, after acquiring TPS status, possibly remain stateside forever. Most would define temporary as seven days, seven weeks or perhaps even seven months. But in the convoluted TPS world, temporary can mean two decades or more. Sudanese were first TPS-designated in 1997; Nicaragua, 1999; and El Salvador, 2001.
Treacherous legislation like H.R. 8428 is always presented with the most cloying official name. Casual observers might think nothing could be wrong with “freedom and choice” for Hong Kong’s people or, for that matter, any others. But the devil is always in the details; in the case of H.R. 8428, TPS.
For Americans seeking practical immigration legislation, TPS is an albatross. No matter whether the administrations are Republican or Democratic, TPS grinds on. Arguments like Cruz’s to improve TPS invariably fall on deaf ears. Even President Trump, often described as an immigration hardliner, extended TPS protections to some nations. If President Trump is a TPS waffler, then the program will most certainly remain intact or expand under the immigration-welcoming Biden administration.