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Ted Cruz: Democrats are holding migrant kids ransom

The Texas Republican blamed President Obama for causing the border crisis and for refusing to take necessary action to stop it
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 6, 2014, in National Harbor, Md.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 6, 2014, in National Harbor, Md.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday denied that he was responsible for blocking legislative action to address the migrant crisis at the border, instead blaming Democrats for refusing to deal with the problem.

"The objective here should be to help the kids, and the way you help the kids is you eliminate the magnet which is President Obama’s amnesty," Cruz said on "Fox News Sunday." The Texas Republican wants to make emergency funding for the border crisis contingent on the repeal of the 2012 executive order that gave certain undocumented immigrants a temporary reprieve from deportation.  

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blamed Republicans like Cruz for blocking funds to help the U.S. deal with the migrant crisis. "Instead of considering a thoughtful, compassionate solution to a real-life crisis, radical Republicans would rather hold these kids ransom," he said on the Senate floor. Obama's $3.7 billion request includes greater spending on border enforcement, care for unaccompanied children, funding for immigration judges, and repatriation.

Cruz shot back at Reid on Sunday. "I’ll tell you who’s holding these kids ransom is Harry Reid and the president, because their view is don’t do anything to fix the problem," he said. Cruz also blamed the Senate bipartisan immigration proposal—the so-called "Gang of Eight" bill—for helping to cause the crisis as well. "They're coming because they believe they'll get amnesty. Part of the Gang of Eight bill was promising amnesty," he said. 

Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out that Cruz's demands could mean further Washington gridlock on the border crisis. "If you’re going to hold up any action on the immediate crisis to stop the president on his executive actions unrelated to this immediate crisis," Wallace said, as Cruz began to interrupt. "If you do that means you’re going to prevent more enforcement from getting to the border."

Other Republicans are demanding changes to Obama's border spending proposal, including greater assurance that migrant children would be repatriated and objections to the $3.7 billion price tag.