Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has emerged as a leading opponent of a bipartisan Senate bill that would grant a pathway to U.S. citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
For those views, Cruz has often pointed to his father, 74-year-old Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, a Cuban emigrant. “In my opinion, if we allow those who are here illegally to be put on a path to citizenship, that is incredibly unfair to those who follow the rules,” the freshman senator has said.
So it’s interesting to learn that although the elder Cruz says he “came to this country legally,” he also admitted in a recent interview with NPR that he basically bribed his way in.
In an interview near his home outside Dallas, the elder Cruz says that as a teenager, he fought alongside Fidel Castro’s forces to overthrow Cuba’s U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. He was caught by Batista’s forces, he says, and jailed and beaten before being released. It was 1957, and Cruz decided to get out of Cuba by applying to the University of Texas. Upon being admitted, he adds, he got a four-year student visa at the U.S. Consulate in Havana.
“Then the only other thing that I needed was an exit permit from the Batista government,” Cruz recalls. “A friend of the family, a lawyer friend of my father, basically bribed a Batista official to stamp my passport with an exit permit.”
The Rafael Cruz that his son Ted portrays is a kind of Cuban Horatio Alger — arriving in the U.S. with only $100, learning English on his own and washing dishes seven days a week for 50 cents an hour.