Cruz had already had a change of heart, but his public pronouncements followed a two-hour meeting with Sessions and his top staffers. The subject of the discussion was an H-1B reform bill — Cruz had proposed that he and Sessions team up to push the bill.

According to Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and a leading immigration hawk, Sessions’s ten years of work on the immigration issue have given him “credibility with the base, and that is something that is in very short supply among politicians.”

That credibility is also something Cruz needs to preserve if he is to win the Republican nomination. “The presidential candidates seeking the Republican nomination should listen to Jeff Sessions,” says Rick Tyler, Cruz’s national spokesman. Sessions has “been focused and consistent on solving the problem of illegal immigration,” Tyler says. “Senator Cruz has worked with him on a number of immigration-reform bills and will continue to consult with him.”