Ted Cruz (R-TX), cast in the mold of a spotlight-grabbing Sarah Palin on the way to a reality show, was accurately described by Rachel Maddow as a "brand on legs." This explains why he has gone after the most uncontroversial program Obama passed unilaterally in wake of the failure of legislation to pass; that is, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
As far as ethics goes, using asylum-seeking children "warehoused" in facilities that look like part Katrina shelter/part dog kennel, as an excuse to attack DACA, falls somewhere between heartlessly passing by the desperate victim robbed in The Good Samaritan, and Frank Underwood sociopathically throwing a reporter in front of a subway car... if both victims were dehydrated little girls desperately trying to escape sex traffickers.
Women and children fleeing violence is nothing new: while some of the stories of how my family came here are likely tall tales, the truth seems to be that my great, great grandmother and great grandfather came here, fleeing Northern Ireland. I had family on both sides of the Ulster Plantation divide, which meant my cousins were likely killing each other in alleys: a condition that would continue for years to come.
When my Protestant great, great grandfather disappeared one day, my Catholic great, great grandmother and my then-12-year-old great grandfather were left to both go through Ellis Island, and find jobs in a New York City that was not happy with it's current influx of immigrants: they faced openly-bigoted laws and hiring practices. The headwinds they faced, however, seem modest compared to what the border children face today.
The child refugees and asylum-seekers of today, unfortunately, fall perfectly into a difficult, complicated and heated political narrative at a time when everyone is already at each other's throats: after much delay, Obama finally announced that he would be giving additional unilateral relief around the end of the summer. Everything we see now from Ted Cruz is just marketing and posturing to drive the base crazier than usual:
"The staggering conditions that children are being subjected to are a direct result of the amnesty that President Obama illegally and unilaterally enacted in 2012 [DACA]," said Cruz.
It is hard to believe an Ivy-League Senator would be so ignorant, so I really do think he's simply knowingly lying: the influx is caused by the highest murder rate in the world in these Central American countries, where people flee areas where gangs murder and rape with impunity; the DACA program will not benefit a single child at the border because you must have been in the country continuously since 2007 to qualify; a president's administration is not responsible for the lies told by the drug cartels often murdering and raping the desperate children they lure into the desert like a giant windowless van full of candy; they aren't being drawn by the American Dream, they're fleeing the Central American nightmare as best they can, and other countries have seen large increases in asylum applications as those fleeing Guatamala, Honduras and El Salvador jump up as much as 700 percent.
While the anger on the Left has been slow in coming, it is still coming: the visuals of children in those horrible shelters aren't leaving any time soon. The harsh rhetoric around this issue is more of the short-sighted politics we have come to expect of the GOP -- they do whatever they can to get through the week, and a lot of it makes absolutely no sense from the outside, i.e. the government shutdown.
The big problem that the GOP either isn't registering, or it's very independently-minded characters like Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) don't care about, is that the GOP brand is being burned to the ground for them to send out another fundraising letter, or for Rick Perry to take another Putin-esque photo op at the border -- with many Latinos believing "there but for the grace of God goes me" as the immigration narrative is very much a Latino one, both in popular perceptions as well as in the surge of asylum-seekers, saying things that boil down to "these kennels are too good for these people" isn't the way to go.
While the course that the Ted Cruz-controlled portion of the GOP is heading down toward is a predictable one, the results are not. During the last big controversy, he led the GOP-controlled House into the street and encouraged them to play in traffic, and I expect more of the same. What kind of car will blindside the more ambitious, less savvy members of the House is anyone's guess.