Republican Debate No. 5: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Go Head-to-Head on Immigration

Lead Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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At last night’s fifth Republican debate, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz went head-to-head on a subject they have both been personally affected by: immigration. Rubio spoke candidly about being open to a path to citizenship, though he says the system needs to be overhauled. He also said he believes the American public will stand behind granting green cards to immigrants who have been here for more than 10 years (and haven’t committed any crimes).

As he was trying to explain what changes he would make, Dana Bash pushed Rubio to answer whether he is still in favor of supporting undocumented immigrants.

“But I’ve answered that question repeatedly,” Rubio said, according to National Review. “I am personally open – after all that has happened and after ten years in that probationary status where all they have is a permit, I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card. That may not be a majority in my party, but that’s down the road. You can’t even begin that process until you prove to people – not just pass a law that says you’re going to have to bring illegal immigration under control. You’re going to have to do it and prove to people that it’s working.”

Rubio criticized Cruz for his inconsistencies on immigration policy, pointing out that prior to Cruz’s hard line against a path to citizenship, he previously supported an increase in green cards and H-1B visas. Cruz shook his head no and laughed through Rubio’s message.

Cruz tried to maintain that he has always been staunchly against a path to citizenship, he said that Rubio was “fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border,” according to CBS News.

Immigration also got framed in stark moral terms when a college student challenged the candidates about their stance on Syrian refugees entering the country. “If the Bible states we need to embrace those in need,”19-year-old Carla Hernandez she wrote in a question sent via Facebook, “how can we justify not accepting refugees?”

Hernandez, who identifies as Republican, said she was surprised that Governor Greg Abbott was so quick to dismiss Syrian refugees in Texas, especially because Romans 12:13 says, “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Hernandez’s question received a lot of support on Twitter.