Ted Cruz moved to a more aggressive deportation policy in an interview on Monday night, saying he would look for and deport undocumentedl immigrants using Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, marking a change from a January interview with CNN.
Appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, Cruz was repeatedly pressed on the specifics of his deportation plans by host Bill O’Reilly, who asked Cruz, “Would you go look for them, though? As (Donald) Trump would look for them to get them out, would you do that if you were president?”
“Bill, of course you would, that’s what ICE exists for,” Cruz said. “We have law enforcement that looks for people who are violating the laws, that apprehends them and deports them.”
O’Reilly offered a hypothetical example of an immigrant from Ireland with “a couple of kids and he’s settled into Long Island.”
“And you, President Cruz, are going to send the feds to his house, take him out, and put him on a plane back to Ireland?” O’Reilly asked.
“You better believe it,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s comments to O’Reilly stand in stark contrast from his previous rhetoric on the issue.
In a January interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Cruz had said he would not deploy a “deportation force,” as Trump as suggested he would do as president.
“I don’t intend to send jackboots to knock on your door and every door in America. That’s not how we enforce the law for any crime,” Cruz told Tapper. “We don’t live in a police state. We do have law enforcement.”
Chad Sweet, chairman of Cruz’s presidential campaign, had also said after CNN’s Republican presidential debate in December that the Cruz campaign supported “attrition through enforcement.”
Cruz, winner of the GOP Iowa caucuses, is at a critical point in his campaign, following two significant losses to Trump in New Hampshire and South Carolina. He also fired his communications director on Monday for circulating a misleading video about rival Marco Rubio.
His next test is Tuesday, when Nevada Republicans head to their caucuses.