EL PASO, Texas — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz visited El Paso Friday to host a round-table discussion with the Borderplex Alliance. The media was not allowed in that discussion but afterward the Texas senator, a Republican, said he focused on trade and the economy during the talks.
But the senator did take questions from the media afterward.
“I think the keys to jobs and economic growth, our tax reform and regulatory reform, reducing the burdens of Washington on small business on job creators,” Cruz said.
Cruz also laid out his four priorities for 2017: healthcare reform, tax reform, regulatory reform and the Supreme Court.
“Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country, it is hammering small businesses and it has also caused millions of Americans to lose their health insurance and lose their doctors. We need to honor out promise to repeal Obamacare,” Cruz said.
In terms of tax reform, Cruz wants to do away with the IRS and create a flat tax for everyone to abide by. For regulatory reform, Cruz said he wants to rethink federal regulations that hurt small businesses and kill jobs.
“And No. 4 is the Supreme Court and ensuring that we have principled constitutionalists on the Supreme Court who will defend the bill of rights and defend the Constitution,” Cruz said.
Cruz said Congress would be the most productive it’s been in decades if it can follow through on those four priorities.
“If we fail, it will be a heartbreaking, missed opportunity. So I'm spending every waking moment focused on delivering results and actually doing what we promised the voters we would do,” Cruz said.
KFOX14 asked Cruz about how the proposed border wall and immigration reform factors into economic growth in Texas.
“You know on immigration I think we need to common sense approach. Legal good, illegal bad. I think the overwhelming majority of Texans and the overwhelming majority of Americans agree with that,” Cruz said.
Cruz echoed President Trump’s claims that illegal immigration has dropped by more than 60 percent since he took office.
“We've seen our immigration laws suddenly being enforced,” Cruz said.
The Texas senator said he’s visited border patrol agents in McAllen who expressed relief that President Trump has taken over and that he supports their mission.
“They told me the thing that has changed is that the traffickers and the cartels now understand that there is an administration that is willing to enforce the law and they're simply not coming,” Cruz said.
Cruz said he supports the idea of a border wall but did not elaborate on how it would impact trade with Mexico even after being asked about it twice by KFOX14’s Meghan Lopez.
“Walls work. Countries all over the world have walls on their border,” Cruz said.
He also claimed that there is already a wall in some parts of the Borderland but didn’t specify what he meant.
“You have a wall constructed here in El Paso to keep El Paso safe. When I was in McAllen, they have miles of wall constructed there with the flood levee that helps keep McAllen more safe,” Cruz said. “What a wall does is it slows down in the legal incursions long enough for the boots on the ground to intercept.”
But Cruz said border security should encompass technology, a physical barrier, aircraft and more border patrol agents among other things.
Cruz introduced a bill back in April called the El Chapo Act to help pay for the wall and border security. It uses assets seized from narcotics traffickers and smugglers to fund the wall’s construction.
Cruz ended by answering questions about the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying 2.2 million jobs in Texas are the results of free trade.
“What I hope will happen in the renegotiation of NAFTA is that the administration will focus on opening foreign markets and opening Mexican markets in Canadian market so that more Texas businesses and more American businesses and farmers and ranchers can get their services and to Mexico,” Cruz said.
A Cruz staff member said the meeting with the Borderplex Alliance was not part of his campaign. El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced earlier this year that he is planning on running against Cruz for his Senate seat in 2018.