Though he denied supporting legal status for unauthorized immigrants during Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate, Sen. Ted Cruz told Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in 2013 that he would support such a measure.
"Look, I understand Marco [Rubio] wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization," Texas presidential candidate Cruz said at the CNN GOP presidential debate last night.
He was responding to Florida senator and fellow candidate Rubio's contention that Cruz's position on immigration had not been much different than his own.
But in November 2013, Cruz met with the president of NHCLC, the largest Evangelical Hispanic organization in the country, and several other people at his office. In that meeting, according to NHCLC President Rev. Rodriguez, Cruz said he would support a path to legal status, though not a path to citizenship, for current unauthorized immigrants.
The meeting with Cruz took place during the NHCLC's "Justice Summit" in Washington, D.C. Participants spoke with many members of Congress during the two-day event.
During a Justice Summit panel session moderated by Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of The Christian Post, Rodriguez, a senior editorial advisor for CP, talked about his meeting with Cruz. You can read CP's coverage of the event here.
At the time, Rodriguez and the late Robert Gittelson, NHCLC VP of governmental relations, explained to attendees that they were debating whether to support a path to legal status as a compromise position, even though they would prefer a path to citizenship.
"I would like to have a path to citizenship. I would love even more for everybody to be safe. For all of our families to be able to live in dignity, for all of our families to live above board and live a normal productive life and pursue the American dream. They can do that without a path to citizenship, as long as they have a significant legal status," Gittelson said.
Rodriguez and Gittelson appeared hopeful that some immigration reform measures would pass, but House Republican leaders were unable to corral the necessary votes to bring any reform measures up for a floor vote.
While there are some differences between Rubio and Cruz on immigration, Rubio was correct to say that Cruz's previous positions are not that far from his own.
Rubio, like Rodriguez, would prefer a path to citizenship, but recognizes that a path to legal status, a path that includes restitution, is a more viable compromise. While Cruz has not supported a path to citizenship, he has previously stated his support for a path to legal status.