POLITICS
08/20/2015 12:31 pm ET | Updated Aug 20, 2015

Ted Cruz Once Said It Was A 'Mistake' To Try To End Birthright Citizenship

The presidential candidate now says we should "absolutely" end it.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Wednesday that he "absolutely" supports ending automatic citizenship for children born on American soil, as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally," Cruz said in an interview on Michael Medved's radio show. "That has been my position from the very first day of my running for the Senate."

But the Texas conservative actually felt differently about the matter while running for the Senate. In a 2011 interview with "The Duke Machado Show," Cruz called efforts to change birthright citizenship misguided because they stood on shoddy legal footing.

"I've looked at the legal arguments against it, and I will tell you as a Supreme Court litigator, those arguments are not very good," he said. "As much as someone may dislike the policy of birthright citizenship, it's in the U.S. Constitution. And I don't like it when federal judges set aside the Constitution because their policy preferences are different."

Instead, Cruz argued that the attention should be on securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I think it is a mistake for conservatives to be focusing on trying to fight what the Constitution says on birthright citizenship. I think we are far better off focusing on securing the border, because birthright citizenship wouldn't be an issue if we didn't have people coming in illegally," he added.

The issue resurfaced in the 2016 Republican presidential race on Sunday when real estate mogul Donald Trump, who is currently leading the pack, came out in support of ending birthright citizenship. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) did so a day later, and then Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) followed suit.

Trump took it a step further on Tuesday, saying that children born to undocumented immigrants on U.S. soil aren't American citizens at all.

Cruz's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his 2011 remarks.

CORRECTION: The story originally misstated the year in which Ted Cruz spoke against challenging birthright citizenship.

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