Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who on Monday became the first elected Hispanic in U.S. history to announce he is running for president, was not exactly welcomed into the race by progressive Hispanic groups who lambasted his strong stance against illegal immigration, The Washington Times reported.
Cruz, whose father was born in Cuba, has been strongly opposed to President Barack Obama's immigration stance. He opposed bipartisan amnesty legislation in 2013 and has been one of the Senate's staunchest critics of Obama's executive amnesty plan announced in November.
"Instead of the lawlessness and the president's unconstitutional executive amnesty, imagine a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders," Cruz said in announcing his White House run. "And imagine a legal immigration system that welcomes and celebrates those who come to achieve the American dream."
But to Hispanic progressives opposed to virtually any immigration limits, Cruz's vision is an assault on their core beliefs. Some immigration advocacy groups depicted Cruz as a political enemy of Hispanics.
"We reject Ted Cruz, which is sad, because while he is the first Latino to declare his candidacy, he may be the most anti-immigration candidate on stage during the debates," Cesar Vargas and Erika Andiola, co-directors of the Dream Action Coalition, said in a joint statement.
While Cruz "has a Latino name and immigration in his past, that's where the similarities between him and the Latino community end," coalition officials added.
"The next president of the United States — and anyone who wants that job — has to come ready with a real plan and timetable to fix our country's broken immigration system," said Lupe Lopez, executive director of the Alliance for Citizenship.
"Candidates who spew anti-immigrant rhetoric and demagoguery have no place and no chance of winning the White House."
Cruz faces an uphill battle in winning Hispanic support for his tough stance on immigration enforcement.
An October survey by Latino Decisions showed
that by a margin of more than 3-1, respondents said they are unlikely to vote for Cruz.
Another Latino Decisions poll
showed that almost 90 percent of Hispanic voters, including 76 percent of Hispanic Republicans, support Obama's executive amnesties.
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