A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol truck patrols the U.S. border with Mexico as Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, visits the Arizona border with Mexico in Douglas, Ariz., Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Setting the Record Straight on Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Teddy Bears and the Border

Mama Grizzly Sarah Palin has recently awoken from her political hibernation with a strange new interest in Donald Trump. During a much-maligned speech Friday in Wisconsin stumping for her candidate of choice, Palin claimed a candidate in the GOP was “inducing and seducing” illegal immigrants with “a gift basket of teddy bears and soccer balls.” This is a not-so-veiled shot aimed at Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump’s main opponent in the GOP race, and Cruz’s trip in 2014 to the Texas-Mexico border.

Is Palin completely misrepresenting Cruz’s (and others) trip? You betcha. And the reason I know is because I was there.

Outside of spin from Trump’s professional stenographers and self-appointed propaganda outlets, most were confused by this “gift basket” concept presented by Palin. The former VP candidate took to Facebook herself to affix her aim at the “lamestream media” for their criticism. Giving Palin the benefit of the doubt, she is severely misinformed about those “teddy bears and soccer balls.”

In July of 2014, Ted Cruz joined many from TheBlaze (including myself, who at the time was VP of Digital Content) and Glenn Beck’s charity operation Mercury One to deliver more than $2 million in food, supplies and toys to unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants who were crossing the border from Mexico into McAllen, Texas. Besides Beck and Cruz, others who were there included Dana Loesch, Mike Broomhead, Alveda King, Pat Gray and Rep. Louie Gohmert. Does Palin think Gohmert is soft on immigration? The thinking was this: illegal immigrant children were coming, and in many cases being forced, across the border. Churches and other volunteers were taking it upon themselves to take care of them for a few days before they could find a home for them. They were understaffed and lacking supplies. Mercury One raised money privately to help in this effort.

This operation was by no means an incentive to come across the border. It was also, as some have incorrectly implied, not some secretive mission that shows what Cruz really believes about the issue of illegal immigration. Here’s my Instagram picture of that day of Cruz unloading boxes. (I’d urge you to look through some of the other pictures from that day that show how deplorable these conditions were.)

This had nothing to do with politics. But don’t take my word for it — here’s my short interview with Ted Cruz after we had toured the facility. He summed it up very clearly:

Our country has always been a country of compassion, of humanity. And these children, while they’re here, we need to care for them, we need to demonstrate American values, but it’s critical as well that we need to uphold the rule of law. The reason these children are coming is because they believe they’ll get amnesty, they’ll get a permiso, and if they get here they’ll be allowed to stay. As long as that promise of amnesty is there more and more children will come, and more and more children will be brutalized, physically assaulted, sexually assaulted by violent drug cartels the coyotes are bringing in. In my view, it is altogether appropriate that private charities and private churches are showing Christian love, are caring for these children. But at the same time we need to eliminate the promise of amnesty. I filed legislation to do that, to make clear President Obama has no legal authority to grant amnesty whatsoever. And we need to expeditiously and humanely return these children, reunite them with their families back home.

That legislation he was citing had been introduced by Cruz just days before. He spoke about it on Fox News Sunday the next day.

Why is it so difficult for some Trump supporters to possess the ability to think with nuance? Clearly a person can be against the policy that was bringing illegal immigrant children to America — and the policy that the Obama administration was continuing once they arrived — while still having compassion for the lives of the children caught in the crossfire.

Palin’s misrepresentation feeds the Trump trolls, and further fractures a party and country being torn apart at the seams.


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Steve Krakauer

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