Ted Cruz rolls out immigration fix, warns on amnesty

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz R-Texas gestures while addressing the Sunshine Summit in Orlando Fla. Friday Nov. 13 2015

Recent polls have shown that Bush and Rubio combined have support from just 25 percent to 30 percent of the state's Republicans, leaving room for other candidates to compete.

During the Senate immigration debate two years ago, the Texas senator was an outspoken advocate for increasing legal immigration, particularly for highly skilled immigrants.

He said a Cruz administration would end the "catch-and-release" program that now doesn't immediately deport all immigrants caught crossing the border illegally. He did not address what he would do with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the USA today. However, Cruz left little doubt whom he was referring when he recalled how the Gang of Eight bills - a failed congressional attempt at immigration reform - was pushed by Democratic senators and "maybe a Republican or two".

Pressed by reporters in SC, Rubio cleverly noted that Cruz proposed a "massive expansion of the H-1B visa program". "Why is that so complicated for anyone in Washington to understand?"

As for Bush, Trump said, "I won't tell you what Bush is, but it's not too good".

"I will have a justice department that defends the religious rights and liberties of every single American", Rubio said, receiving the closest thing to a standing ovation he received.

"And maybe a Republican or two", Cruz said, smiling.

"Everybody running for president on the Republican side, in one way or shape, supports a few forms or fashion, the legalization of people that are in this country illegally", Rubio said. "Sometimes they answer them one way on English stations and another way on Spanish stations".

Rubio responded to Cruz's remarks Friday, saying, "I'm surprised by his criticism given the fact that his record on immigration quite frankly is not substantially different than mine". Rand Paul says that Rubio's tax plan would give tax credits and welfare to "illegal aliens". Rubio reminded people that "Ted is a supporter of legalizing people that are in this country illegally".

"If you have waste in a current program, will you get less waste or more waste if you increase the number?" Cruz said he would stop the government from issuing those visas for 180 days to conduct an investigation into abuses. At the moment, he favors creating a path to citizenship for non-criminal illegal immigrants as a stand-alone law after another piecemeal enforcement-minded reforms are implemented and succeeding. The home-state USA senator found a warm, but not enthusiastic response to much of his speech talking about limiting the government's size and encouraging free-enterprise development of a 21st century economy.

"In introducing amendments, what I endeavored to do was improve that bill so that it actually fixes the problem...I think an overwhelming majority of Americans in both parties wants to see our broken immigration system fixed, wants to see the problem solved, the border secured, and our remaining a nation that welcomes and celebrates legal immigrants". Rubio is also the son of Cuban immigrants.

The latest example: Rubio and Cruz are pushing for the Senate to go further than the House when it takes up legislation to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law. And I watched Marco Rubio.