But if Cruz were to lead the fight against the comprehensive plan, it could also spark a revolt from the large — and growing — population of Texas Hispanics who opposed his candidacy in large numbers in 2012. Cruz’s thinking will be on fresh display Monday, when witnesses testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee could be subjected to his prosecutorial style of questioning…

For now, the firebrand Texas conservative is launching a carefully calibrated critique of the bill, calling for a focus on consensus items like border security and changes to current law that would help legal immigrants enter the country more quickly — all the while attacking the proposed pathway to citizenship for those living here illegally…

“Every leading GOP 2016-er is supporting comprehensive immigration reform,” said one Texas Republican source who knows Cruz well and asked not to be identified. “The worst secret in D.C. is Cruz is going to run for president, and he’s going to lean in hard against immigration to separate himself from all other 2016-ers.”

Cruz and his aides strongly deny that political motives are driving his immigration stance. They argue that coming from a border state with security shortfalls means there is a demand for tougher enforcement measures to stem the tide of illegal immigration.