Fact Check: Renee Ellmers Does Not Share Immigration Views with Cruz, Lee, Paul as She Claimed
Reeling from controversy over her ill-fated radio interview with Laura Ingraham, Rep. Renee Ellmers is claiming she has the “same position” on immigration as Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee.
But a review of her position – and theirs – shows that isn't true. And a spokesman for Lee even sought to put some distance between the Utah Senator and Ellmers on the issue in a statement.
Ellmers' claim came from the Moore County GOP convention March 15, where she said “my opponent is hitting me on that saying that when I’m standing for is amnesty and pathway to citizenship—and I’m not. I’ve repeatedly said over and over again that that is not the case and apparently he just doesn’t seem to understand that so I’m going to clarify that. My position is the same position that Ted Cruz has, my position is the same position that Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Dr. Ben Carson have.”
Ellmers has endorsed “legal status” for illegal aliens and even a pathway to citizenship for at least some aliens.
"I believe that in addition to securing our borders, the best course of action is one that provides an earned legal work status that would not be given indiscriminately. Instead, it would be contingent on some combination of paying a penalty, admitting to violating the law, and verifying identity. Only after this legal work status is obtained can individuals have the opportunity to begin the naturalization process - if that is their choice,” Ellmers wrote in a Jan. 18 op-ed for the Fayetteville Observer.
"Amnesty" means an official pardon of or decision to not enforce penalties for a specific violation of the law, which puts Ellmers' position clearly within the meaning of the word.
Furthermore, Ellmers position is substantially different from Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee.
Ellmers has, for example, backed the House GOP leadership's immigration “principles” – which were vigorously opposed by both Cruz and Lee as they were being proposed, although their opposition was primarily couched in terms of the timing of bringing a bill forward in 2014.
Lee appeared on Fox News on the morning House GOP leadership was introducing the immigration principles to members at the conference retreat in Maryland, where he said he thinks immigration reform needs to be done in a true step-by-step manner. “In order to reform our immigration code, and I agree that we need to reform it, we need to undertake this in a step-by-step fashion, and the very first thing we need to do is secure the border,” Lee said that morning. “And we also need to reform our antiquated, outdated visa system – our legal immigration processes.”
“Once those things are done, once those things are in place and have been verified, then we’ll be in a better place to figure out how to treat the eleven million people who are here illegally with dignity and respect for the rule of law," Lee added.
Sen. Lee’s communications director Brian Phillips told Breitbart News that Ellmers’ position sounds suspiciously like the Senate bill he fought vigorously when it was under consideration.
"Sen. Lee's position has been very clear: piecemeal legislation, one bill at a time, verify and evaluate each step as we implement the reforms,” Phillips said. “We have read Rep. Ellmer's most recent op-ed on reform and it sounds a lot like how the Gang of Eight tried to sell comprehensive immigration reform, something Sen. Lee spent several months last year opposing.”
The public evidence suggests the same holds true for Cruz and Paul, though neither senator's office would comment for this story.
Back on the day Boehner was introducing his immigration principles, Cruz told Breitbart News moving on those Boehner immigration principles would ensure that the Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid maintained control of the Senate in 2014. "Right now, Republican leadership in both chambers is aggressively urging members to stand down on virtually every front: on the continuing resolution, on the budget, on the farm bill, on the debt ceiling,” Cruz said.
“They may or may not be right, but their argument is that we should focus exclusively on Obamacare and on jobs,” Cruz continued. “In that context, why on earth would the House dive into immigration right now? It makes no sense, unless you're Harry Reid. Republicans are poised for an historic election this fall--a conservative tidal wave much like 2010. The biggest thing we could do to mess that up would be if the House passed an amnesty bill--or any bill perceived as an amnesty bill--that demoralized voters going into November. Rather than responding to the big-money lobbying on K Street, we need to make sure working-class Americans show up by the millions to reject Obamacare and vote out the Democrats. Amnesty will ensure they stay home.”
Cruz even went so far as to say that any Republicans pushing the immigration “principles,” which Ellmers supported, should put a “Harry Reid for Majority Leader” bumper sticker on their car because it would be so damaging to the GOP politically.
Sen. Paul, meanwhile, opposed the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill and even said that if Boehner passed anything resembling it in the House, it would “be the final thing he does as speaker.” Immigration hawks like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) have likened the House principles to the Gang of Eight bill, although the one-page principles document lacks sufficient detail to make a full comparison.
However, Ellmers was correct in saying Dr. Ben Carson sees eye-to-eye with her on the issue. Carson has repeatedly endorsed amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens, telling The Daily Caller in March 2013 for instance he would “of course allow [illegal immigrants] to have a pathway to citizenship. That’s the only humane and reasonable thing to do.”