Cruz horrified by images of migrant children pulled away from parents

Texas Senator Ted Cruz chats with KTSA News at the 2018 Texas Republican Party Convention in San Antonio, Tex. (Photo: KTSA/Dennis Foley)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz tells KTSA News he is horrified by the images of children being separated from their parents who are suspected of being illegal immigrants.

“One of the tragic consequences of illegal immigration is that often it is children who pay the biggest prices,” Cruz told KTSA in an exclusive interview Friday night.  “I would like to see an outcome where we endeavor to keep family units together — to keep mom and dad with their kids.”

The Texas Republican — who is up for reelection against Rep. Beto O’Rourke — said illegal immigration usually does not end well for children.

On one hand, Cruz said they are often abused on their journey to the U.S., sometimes caught up in drug cartels that exploit them. On the other, the end up getting split up from their parents when they get to the U.S.

The biggest thing the nation needs to do, he said, is secure the border to stop illegal immigration and help families looking to come here do so legally.  But until then, the processing for migrants needs to improve.

“What I think makes a lot more sense is that we need a lot more funding for immigration judges so that if a family comes with a credible claim of asylum, rather than having them wait weeks or months for that to be heard, that should be heard immediately,” Cruz said.  He added that those without a credible claim would be sent back sooner, keeping families out of detention facilities.

On North Korea: ‘hopeful, but deeply skeptical’

Cruz applauded the different approach President Donald Trump has taken with North Korea, but wants to see where things go from here.

“Kim Jong Un has a long history of lying,” Cruz stated, “as did his father and as did his grandfather. So, I went into the summit with deep, deep skepticism that they would make the same empty promises — which they have for decades, promising to either denuclearize or to stop their nuclear research in exchange for billions of dollars.”

The senator said we have seen the same movie play over and over again where no progress is made with each broken promise.

“That said, the document that Kim signed promises that North Korea denuclearizes.  If that actually happens, that would be historic — that would have a profoundly positive national security impact for the United States,” Cruz said. “I hope that happens.”

He said the promise is encouraging, but he needs to see some actual action happen.

Cruz said what Trump has done from a policy perspective is in stark contrast to the previous administration, which he described as appeasement.

“If history taught us anything, it’s that weakness and appeasement don’t work,” the Texas senator said.

“There’s a reason why nobody ever studied at the Neville Chamberlain School of Foreign Affairs: appeasement doesn’t work.”

Cruz said the Obama policies brought about a nuclear-armed North Korea and its development of ICBMs.

Currently, he said North Korea is a top security threat.

“If you sit through a briefing, either a public briefing or a classified briefing, it is deeply, deeply concerning,” Cruz shared. “There are many, many scenarios where if a conflict breaks out, within hours we could see hundreds of thousands of casualties.”

He said he supports the strong sanctions and restrictions on North Korea, along with maintaining THAAD missiles in South Korea to deter any threats.

Cruz even touted a futuristic form of warfare that could be used as a deterrent.

“Ultimately, we need air-based and space-based missile interceptors,” the lawmaker explained. “Just this past week, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes our military.  This year, one of the amendments that I introduced that was passed was an amendment directing the Department of Defense to develop and implement space-based missile interceptors that can intercept a missile in the boost phase when it is taking off.

“This is a debate that has raged 40 years. It has usually had bitter partisan divide. This is the first time the Department of Defense has been directly instructed to implement space-based missile interceptors and I was very proud to get the support of Republicans and a number of Democrats to pass this into law.”

In terms of the president’s comments on the U.S. pulling out of the “war games” with South Korea, Cruz said he was proud that President Trump didn’t sign any formal agreement to withdraw troops from the Korean Peninsula.

The Republican said that it has long been an objective of the Chinese and other countries to have those troops leave Korea.

“That would weaken our U.S. national security posture.  Our military presence there benefits America — it allows us to project power and defend our nation,” Cruz stated. “I’m also very glad the agreement did not include a lifting of sanctions.”

Cruz likes his reelection chances, but sees red flags

Cruz’s reelection campaign is the whole reason for his chat with KTSA News.

In talking about his campaign, he presented himself as being confident with his own reelection, but tossed out some concerning facts for his team.

“The extreme left is angry,” Cruz said with his best sales pitch tone. “They hate President Trump.”

Cruz said he was confident there will be a large Democratic turnout at the polls in November.  But, he was confident conservatives — a group he specifically called out — would outnumber those Democrats and would have a strong turnout in the state.

“My job is to turn conservatives — turn commonsense Texans — out and to defend our basic values,” the senator stated, laying out his plans. “In Texas, we believe in low taxes, low regulations, we want small businesses growing, we want jobs, more jobs and more jobs, and higher wages and more opportunity and we want our borders secured, we want law and order respected and we want the Constitution and Bill of Rights honored.  We want our rights protected — those are common sense values shared among Texans.”

In a midterm election, the party in power often struggles to draw their members and supporters out to the polls.

Cruz said candidates need to emphasize the stakes.

He praised the work Republicans have done by cutting federal taxes and trimming regulations. The senator said he led the effort to prune the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — among other initiatives.

He then turned his focus on his opponent.

“Typically a Democrat, when they run in a general election in Texas, they try to at least pretend to run to the middle.  They pretend to be a moderate,” Cruz stated.

“Congressman Beto O’Rourke is not doing that. Congressman O’Rourke is running on the hard left.  He’s running like [Vermont Senator] Bernie Sanders,” explained Cruz.

The incumbent said his challenger is running to raise taxes, bring back regulations, supports open borders and expand “Obamacare”.

“On the Second Amendment, he is an aggressive advocate for gun control.  In fact, he tweeted out how proud he was that he has an ‘F’ from the NRA — not a ‘D-minus’ or a ‘D’, but an ‘F,'” Cruz noted in his pitch. “I retweeted it.”

Cruz did note that O’Rourke was the number 1 fundraiser in the country, doubling the amount that his own campaign has generated. He blamed “Hollywood Liberals” for that difference.

But it’s not just an election featuring Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke.

“I am working to help out Republicans across the state to get reelected,” Cruz stated.

He then gave a shout-out to his former Chief of Staff Chip Roy who is running as a Republican to replace Rep. Lamar Smith.

But Cruz noted how important of a role he has for the party as a whole across the state.

“In 2018, I’m at the top of the ballot,” the senator said a little more softly. “I feel a special responsibility because if we turn conservatives out, we’ll do well up and down the ballot.”

He noted it will help to have his supporters run right down the ballot and vote for his fellow Republicans. If conservatives stay home, Cruz said the party could get obliterated.

Cruz looks forward to battle with Kimmel in Houston

Is Ted Cruz ready to take on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel?

“I hope so, we’ll see,” Cruz said with a smile on his face.

The two will battle it out on a basketball court at Texas Southern University in Houston Saturday afternoon.

The loser of the one-on-one match-up will have to pay $5,000 to the winner’s charity of choice.

When the topic was brought up Friday night in the interview, it drew a big smile from the lawmaker and he was excited to talk about it.

Cruz says it all started when his beloved Houston Rockets lost Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors.

Cruz was confident if the Rockets had beaten the Warriors, the Rockets would have ended up being NBA champions.

But, Kimmel noted that Cruz was in the audience and was the bad luck charm leading to the team’s loss.

The two “discussed” the matter in a back-and-forth on Twitter, that culminated in a challenge by Cruz for Kimmel to take him on in a charitable game of basketball.

Cruz said he got some practice in for the match-up earlier Friday in Houston before he drove out to San Antonio for the state party convention.

The politician said whatever happens on the court happens, but he’s excited.

Kimmel is flying a crew out to Houston to film the game.  But on the court, Cruz said it will be ‘mano a mano’ — not to be confused with Manu [Ginobili] a Manu.

“He’s a professional comedian,” Cruz factually stated. Then, he started digging.

“He has a team of comedy writers around him. But the nice thing is when he steps on the court, there are no comedy writers around him. It’s him and me and the question is what can you do and how can you handle the ball and who can score.”

The senator said he heard there were about 8,000 people who already got their free tickets to the game.

The campaign, meanwhile, is worried about one potential embarrassment on the court with thousands watching it live.

“My team is terrified that Jimmy’s gonna dunk on me and I’ll make a promise: that ain’t gonna happen.”

Cruz on #KawhiGate2018

“I don’t know. He’s a heck of a ballplayer.”

He then went on to mention how the Spurs whipped the Rockets’ tail last year.  It prompted Cruz to remember and then mention the bet he had lost to KTSA’s Trey Ware, leading him to do a live interview in the Alamo Lounge last July.

He quickly moved on to talking about Father’s Day with his father, Rafael, sitting in the room.

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