After his vacation-gone-wrong during Texas' deadly winter storm, Sen. Ted Cruz returned to Mexico this week to investigate the ongoing crisis at the U.S. border. "So it's past midnight. I'm standing on the shore of the Rio Grande," Cruz said in a video shared to Twitter. "I'm down at the Texas border along with 18 senators who made the trip to see the crisis that is playing out." He signed the video with the hashtag #BidenBorderCrisis.
Immediately, people began joking about Cruz's last trip to Mexico — that is, when he headed to the Ritz Carlton in Cancún during a weather crisis that left millions of Texans without power and clean water. "Can anyone point me to Cancún?" responded California Rep. Eric Swalwell. Another congressman, Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, wrote: "50% chance this is outside the Ritz Carlton Cancún."
In a series of dispatches from the border, Cruz described the humanitarian crisis, which he said is President Joe Biden's fault. "That's Mexico, and you can see there's three smugglers right there, standing on the Mexican side, looking at us. They're shining their flashlights at us, they're yelling at us," Cruz said in a blurry clip. In another tweet, he decried the "influx of migrant crossings" and inhumane housing for children and families, and he claimed that he and his fellow senators were subjected to "heckling" from cartel members.
Beto O'Rourke, who ran against and lost to Cruz in the 2018 Senate race, took issue with Cruz's assertions that he was in any kind of real danger. "You're in a Border Patrol boat armed with machine guns. The only threat you face is unarmed children and families who are seeking asylum (as well as the occasional heckler)," he wrote. "If you're looking for a crisis to cosplay Senator for, I'm happy to point you in the right direction." O’Rourke went on to criticize Cruz's failure to support gun safety measures, health insurance for his constituents, and a livable minimum wage.
But most importantly, as O'Rourke noted, it's hard to view Cruz's reactions as genuine when he previously refused to criticize Donald Trump's harmful anti-immigration policies. Under Trump, a record number of migrant children were detained in government custody and legal immigration to the U.S. declined by 49%. When Cruz was asked about Trump's family separation policy, he shifted blame onto Barack Obama and the families seeking safety and asylum. "I visited the Obama camps that he set up to detain little boys and little girls who crossed the border illegally. Illegal immigration produces human tragedies that are wrong," he told reporters in 2018. "I don't think we should have any children that are brought across the border illegally, many times by drug cartels and coyotes who abuse those children, and sexually assault, physically assault those children."
To be clear, Obama, Trump, and Biden all bear responsibility for the inhumane conditions at the border. But, just like his unnecessary, fear-mongering language about "smugglers" and cartels, and his excuse for traveling to Cancún back in February, the reasoning behind Cruz's sudden outrage about the crisis is all too transparent — he only cares about crises when he's the one being affected.