Sen. Cruz: Immigration bill 'not designed to fix the problem'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 24, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, the Senate voted 67 to 27 to advance the border surge amendment to the comprehensive immigration bill. Now, we're told that the final vote could come within the next week.

Now, this 119 page border surge amendment was added on Friday to the already 1,100 page bill. And the Senator Jeff Sessions pointed out prior to tonight's vote, no one has had time to read this thing.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA.: Us senators haven't had a chance to read the bill to see how the merge languages falls throughout the legislation, see what other changes may have been made over the weekend. I was here. We've been trying to get through this. But it's not easy. And I'm sure my colleagues haven't been able to do so.


HANNITY: Now that issue alone should make Americans very cautious, but let's take a deeper look why many people are upset about this bill. For starters, one of the co-sponsors of the border surge amendment, Senator Bob Corker, admitted that the amendment does little to help interior security. He's quoted saying, quote, "I do wish this amendment had some other measures relative to interior security, but I think the house can improve this. The conference can improve this. So, I hope we have the opportunity down the road to see that occur."

Well, if that's the case, then why the rush? How about we get it right the first time in the Senate? And today, the president of the border patrol agents union responded with a statement that read in part, quote, "Far from tough interior enforcement measures, this bill now combined with the Corker-Hoeven into a single 1,200 page bill, caters to special interest groups, and in doing so undermines enforcement, law enforcement officers, public safety and the security of this nation. It's time for supporters of the legislation to start accurately describing it publicly."

And here's one example of what he's talking about. In this immigration bill, Senator Harry Reid secured an extension of the $100 million in the Travel Promotion Act which they are calling the "Casino Kickback."

So how does urging people to visit Vegas have anything to do with immigration reform? That's not all. According to analysis by this Senate for immigration studies, because of this bill, one in seven U.S. residents would be immigrants by 2020. Now, that surpasses a record that was set, by the way, back in 1890.

Joining me now with reaction is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who voted against the vote for cloture today. Sir, welcome aboard.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Sean, always great to be with you.

HANNITY: I guess the first question I sadly have to ask is, did you have time to read it before you even voted for cloture today?

CRUZ: Well I've read much of it. We've been going through it. But it's not by accident that they dumped a 1,200 page bill on us Friday afternoon before a weekend, most of the senators were already on airplanes, had gone home by then. And then we voted on it Monday afternoon, literally as senators ran in from the airport.

And the arguments, you know, it's much like ObamaCare. We're being told we got pass it to figure out what's in it, and frankly I don't think Republicans should be going along with Democrats in playing those kind of games.

HANNITY: Yes. I just read Senator Corker's statements. Why not just get it right the first time? What's your reaction?

CRUZ: Well, look, what Harry Reid is trying to do is he wants to jam this through fast. We've had a total of nine amendments prior to this one that's been considered. In 2007 they had roughly 50 amendments. What Harry Reid understands is the American people don't support this approach.

You know, Sean, we've seen this approach before in 1986, Congress told the American people we're going to grant amnesty to some 3 million people here illegally. And in exchange, we'll secure the borders, we'll stop illegal immigration, we'll fix the problem. We all saw what happened. The amnesty happened and the border security never did.

This bill and the amendment that was voted on today follows the exact same pattern. It has immediate legalization, so the legalization will happen, and the border security is sometime in the future, and just like in 1986 it's designed never to come in to being.

HANNITY: All right. So, the 2006 bill we got the, 1986 we got the amnesty, we didn't get the security. The fence was supposed to be built since what, 2006.

Let me read a section here from this bill because I think this is key that proves that border security is not insured in this bill. And it's page 35 line 24 and it says, "Nothing in the subsection shall require the secretary," meaning Janet Napolitano, "to install fencing in a particular location in the southern border. If the secretary determines that the use or placement of those resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain effective control over the southern border, doesn't have to do it." So what's the point? There is no security, am I wrong?

CRUZ: You're exactly right. This bill has roughly 1,000 waivers written into it, hands it all over to Janet Napolitano and says, you know, use your discretion to decide what to waive. And it's designed to never to happen. You know, there's a sharp contrast between this bill and the amendment I introduced that would have put real teeth into border security and would have secured the border first.

This bill weakens -- and I'm talking about the amendment we voted on today, weakens current law regarding a border fence. It weakens current law regarding biometric security. What it says you got to show a photo ID. Well Sean, if anyone has ever known a teenager, it ain't hard to go a flea market and get a fake ID. I suspect, you know, more than a few of us have some personal knowledge about how easy that is to do.

Current law requires biometric. This law takes that out. It weakens border security. And the most critical piece is which comes first. Do we secure the borders first or do we legalize first? And this bill follows the mistake of '86.

HANNITY: What was your reaction the CBO report where it says wages will go down and unemployment will go up?

CRUZ: Well, in fact it predicts that illegal immigration will continue at massive levels. This bill is not designed to fix the problem. If this bill got passed into law, I guarantee you another 10, 20 years we'll be back here except instead of 11 million people here illegally, we'll have 20 million or 30 million. And that's not a humane system. This system is broken. And we need to fix it. That's what the American people want is to secure the borders first and to improve legal immigration so we can welcome and celebrate legal immigrants.

HANNITY: What did you make of all the additions here? We got the casino kick back for Harry Reid. Bernie Sanders 1.5 billion for youth employment that also includes transportation and daycare. Did you see that provision?

CRUZ: I did. And this is just like ObamaCare. They are trying to buy votes one at a time. Let me tell you one of the most troubling aspects of this bill that a lot of people don't understand. The impact of this bill effectively creates de facto affirmative action for those who are here illegally, because illegal immigrants when they get this RPI status are exempted from ObamaCare. So if you're a small business owner, it costs about $5,000 more when you take into account the tax treatment to hire a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant than it does to hire someone who is here illegally.

Can you imagine a $5,000 penalty for hiring a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident? That makes no sense to put a massive preference for those here illegally over those who have followed the law. And I've got an amendment to fix that, to defund Obamacare until there are no more RPIs waiting in line and, of course, Harry Reid won't even let that amendment come up for vote.

HANNITY: Senator, I noticed The Washington Post attacked you on that very point. So who is right here? You or The Washington Post? I'm not trusting The Washington Post.

CRUZ: You know it's funny The Washington Post called their response a quote, "fact check" but their number one argument is they said, well, ObamaCare only applies to companies with over 50 employees, so it's a miniscule percentage of all the companies so it doesn't matter. I got to admit, that's pretty ridiculous if they're arguing that ObamaCare doesn't impact the economy. Two-thirds of all people working are working for companies with more than 50 employees.

I would be very curious if the columnist who wrote that who works for The Washington Post -- which has more employees -- how he would feel about it if they decided to fire him and hire someone who was here illegally because it was $5,000 more expensive to hire U.S. citizen to write that column.

HANNITY: Senator, maybe this is too simple for Washington. I have not gotten a good answer to the question does the United States of America have the right to sovereign borders? Why would anyone be against doing that first?

CRUZ: And, of course, we do. Every other nation on Earth does. You know, the nation of Mexico enforces its borders against people coming in there. Every nation that is sovereign does that. But let me tell you Sean --

HANNITY: We don't.

CRUZ: -- there's only one way to get this stopped. Except us. And no nation on Earth has been as welcoming to immigrants as we have been. We are nation of immigrants. But we've got to also be a nation of rule of law.

The way we stop this though is for the American people to stand up. You know, on Ted, we got a national petition over 100,000 people have signed up in the past week. Call your senators and that's how we can stop this from becoming law.

HANNITY: All right. Do you predict it will still pass by the vote today? I guess you have to assume it well.

CRUZ: Well, it will likely pass the Senate but we can stop this in the House and we can prevent a whole lot of Republicans from jumping on board this week if you call your senators this week. There are 20 Republicans on the fence, Sean, who haven't decided how to vote.

HANNITY: All right. Senator Ted Cruz, I appreciate you being with us. As always, thank you.

CRUZ: Always a pleasure, Sean. Thank you.

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