Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are both so very—how to put it—racist.
But, while Donald Trump goes for full frontal racism, Ted Cruz' style is more of a titillating burlesque show.
I recently caught up with Cruz on the campaign trail and heard him spend a great deal of time talking about his legislation “Kate’s Law,” named after Kate Steinle, who he described as “a beautiful young lady, murdered for no reason on the pier in San Francisco."
"Her murderer was an illegal alien who entered this country over and over and over again," he went on. "He was a repeat criminal with a rap sheet as long as my arm. Yet he kept being let go and kept coming back and coming back and the mayor of San Francisco happily welcomed him to a lawless city. The last thing Kate said as she died in her father’s arms were just, ‘Help me, Dad.’ ”
Later, Cruz also crowed about his involvement in Texas v. Medellin, a case in which two teenaged girls were brutally raped and murdered by, as he put it, “a gang in Houston and one of those gang members, Jose Ernesto Medellin, was an illegal alien.” Cruz made sure justice was served, he declares, when Medellin got his lethal injection.
In other words, while Trump unequivocally states that undocumented immigrant are murdering rapists, Cruz peppers his speeches with stories of undocumented immigrants that have committed rapes and murders, suggesting the same thing. In fact, although Trump likes to say that he brought the issue of "illegal immigration" into the spotlight, Cruz has arguably had the loudest voice, race-baiting and stoking fears about American's newest neighbors even pre-Trump.
However, like Trump, when money is involved, Cruz's disdain for "illegal aliens" vaporizes faster than the Wicked Witch of the West in a waterfall.
Meet Tom Hicks, previous owner of the Texas Rangers and one of Cruz's biggest money bags. This deep pocket not only gives hand over fist to Cruz but also has hosted several Cruz fundraisers at his Dallas mansion. For Cruz, Hicks is a big deal because he is well known in Republican circles as a master "bundler," someone that not only gives, but gets other rich people to give as well.
What's not as well known is that Hicks has made a great deal of his money by exploiting undocumented workers. In fact, shortly before Christmas in 2006, Hick's Swift & Company—a chain of meatpacking plants—was busted by the U.S. Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) agency in the largest workplace raid in American history. At six Swift locations, 1,300 undocumented workers were inhumanely rounded up, detained and deported. (ICE also charged that because the raid was leaked to management, numerous additional undocumented workers were fired in the days leading up to the raid.)
At the time, ICE director and President Bush appointee Julie Myers said, "The action should send a clear message to employers: Hiring illegal workers is not acceptable."
Shorty after the raid, former employees of Swift sued, alleging that the company had intentionally pitted undocumented workers against documented workers in an "long-standing scheme by Swift to depress and artificially lower the wages of its workers by knowingly hiring illegal workers."
In addition, to low wages, former employees charged that Swift managers routinely warned documented workers that they would be fired for complaining about working conditions, and that they'd be replaced with undocumented workers who "complain about nothing" because of the threat of deportation hanging over their head. Jose Serrato, a 62-year-old Mexican-American, who worked at one Swift plant for 18 years, told the the Houston Press at the time, "It's an injustice—what they did to the Guatemalans, and what they did to us."
According to the plaintiff attorney, Angel Reyes, the suit against Swift was settled confidentially.
Irony of ironies, despite Cruz's coziness with Hicks, he's posturing as the guy who is ensuring "employers are not hiring illegal immigrants at the expense of hardworking Americans," and even endorsed Iowa Representative Steve King's bill that would not allow employers to deduct payroll going to undocumented workers when calculating their taxable income.
According to Cruz, this bill will "prevent companies from deducting illegal immigrants’ salaries and benefiting from lawlessness."
Jud Lounsbury is a political reporter based in Madison, Wisconsin, and a regular contributor to The Progressive.