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Senator Ted Cruz wants to create immigration ports of entry in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

The Texas Republican’s proposal seems engineered to outrage Democrats in New England -- and doesn’t seem to be working

Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington on Oct. 7, 2021.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington on Oct. 7, 2021.T.J. Kirkpatrick/NYT

PROVIDENCE — Senator Ted Cruz on Tuesday touted his little-known “Stop the SURGE Act,” which calls for new ports of entry to be established in deeply Democratic parts of New England — and requires that people trying to enter the U.S. through the southern border be relocated from sectors in Texas to these newly created ports for “processing.”

The plan does not propose how federal agencies or military officials would transport immigrants, or suggest ways to pay for new port directors or other costs.

He introduced the Act “so rich Democrats can be sitting there and suddenly see 10, 20, 30, 50,000 illegal immigrants, like we’re seeing in Texas on a daily basis,” Cruz said on Fox News. “And I can just envision them in Nantucket just sitting there, ‘Oh goodness they want to come to our clubs.’”

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“They would be horrified,” he said.

His plan, which has not been introduced on the senate floor but has been posted only on Cruz’s website, calls for 12 new ports of entry to be established by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Three of them are in California, two in New York, three in Massachusetts (in Cambridge, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket), and one each in Connecticut, Delaware, Vermont, and Rhode Island -- on Block Island. In describing his plan on TV, Cruz also mentioned Newport, Rhode Island, which is not listed in the proposed act.

Block Island, which is represented by Rep. Blake Filippi, a Republican and Minority Leader in the House, is a travel and day trip destination for many New Englanders, while Newport is known as a sailing town with mansions that once housed the Vanderbilts.

Newport Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano and Block Island Town Manager Maryanne Crawford did not immediately respond to the Globe’s inquiries. Madison Allman, a spokeswoman for the National Immigration Law Center said they “don’t have anyone available to comment on this development.”

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Chip Unruh, the press secretary for Rhode Island Democratic Senator Jack Reed, told the Globe: “Can you just use one word? Ridiculous.”

Cruz’s press office did not respond to the Globe’s requests for comment or clarification.

“With all the rhetoric, it’s very politically charged,” said Dany Bahar, an associate professor of International and Public Affairs at Brown University’s Watson Institute, after reading Cruz’s proposal. “It could be a good policy to have more capacity, to lower the burden at the port of entry. You could create another point of entry to transport them to another place to process them, but it has to make sense. You aren’t going to transport people from Texas to New York. That doesn’t make sense.”

“All these policies and all this rhetoric of calling these people illegal immigrants, and making policies to stop immigration, is not reality,” he said. “The logic here is how do you make this a win-win-win situation? How do you help process everyone who is coming who might be looking for refugee status? The US is a signatory of the international refugee agreements. If someone comes to the border and says they are looking for asylum, these are not illegal immigrants.”

U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island, said Cruz should “Get serious.”

“These kind of bad-faith proposals do nothing to fix our broken immigration system,” he said on Twitter.

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Governor Dan McKee said Cruz did not contact his office regarding this plan, but that Rhode Island would continue supporting refugees from Afghanistan.

“I don’t know much about it,” McKee told the Globe, referring to Cruz’s proposal. “Other than that, I don’t have a real good comment that is polite.”


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz. Carlos Muñoz can be reached at carlos.munoz@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ReadCarlos.