A leftover from yesterday that shouldn’t go unnoticed, as it represents another escalation in the developing Trump/Cruz immigration war. There are two ways Trump might really damage Cruz, I think. One is by going full alpha male on him, insulting him and then gloating that Cruz is a wuss when Cruz inevitably fails to hit back. The other way is by discrediting him on immigration, which has become a proxy issue for all sorts of deeper cultural divides — political correctness, establishmentarianism, transnationalism, and so on. Trump is smart to skip the alpha-male approach, which would probably backfire by making him look even more boorish than he already does, in favor of immigration. He’s got a leg to stand on, after all: Republicans have been debating for weeks whether Cruz’s 2013 work-permit amendment to the Gang of Eight bill really was a poison pill, as he claims, or a double-edged bill designed to give him “moderate” credibility for the general election this year.
But don’t worry about Cruz. He’s got plenty of old amnesty-friendly soundbites from Trump’s past to drop on him if it comes to that. And if you want to stick to the present, he’s to Trump’s right on immigration in at least two ways. One is H-1B visas, which Cruz previously wanted to expand but now wants to freeze per his new, Jeff-Sessions-esque stance towards legal immigration. The immigration platform posted on Trump’s website also calls for limiting visas for low-income workers — but when Trump was asked about that at the GOP debate in October, he seemed to say that he’d be fine with increasing the number of H-1Bs for higher-income workers. H-1B visas are a boutique issue for most voters, though. A bigger issue is the new divide between Trump and Cruz about whether to let deported illegals apply for readmission to the U.S. as legal immigrants. Cruz says no way. Trump, as you’re about to see, seems all for it. Which is … strange, given that one of the engines of Trumpmania among his blue-collar base is that he’s going to guard their jobs more jealously than any other candidate would. Deporting a huge foreign supply of cheap labor only to let it back in again might even the playing field a bit on labor costs, but it doesn’t solve the problem of low-wage competition from foreign-born workers. Why is Trump letting Cruz outmaneuver him here?