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Ted Cruz Calls Elian Gonzalez Saga "A Sad Day For America"

"You saw the federal government sending stormtroopers with machine guns to grab a six-year-child whose mother had died trying to give him freedom and instead for us to send him back to Fidel Castro."

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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz emphasized on a podcast on Tuesday his policy on immigration would be to deport those in the country illegally while adding he believes it was wrong for the Clinton administration to send Elian Gonzalzes — the child famously at the center of a heated custody battle between his Cuban father and Miami-based relatives — back to Cuba in 2000.

Cruz made the comments speaking to Fox News podcaster Todd Starnes in the context of his recent comments that he wouldn't have a deportation force to remove undocumented immigrants but would have law enforcement remove lawbreakers.

"The media are who they are," he told Starnes. "They have their agenda and they try to push it. I think any conservative has to understand that, and just be willing to speak the truth with a smile. At the same time in that, there was astonishment expressed when I said that we should enforce the law. Like why would the president possibility enforce the law? For me, I'm a Constitutionalist. The Constitution is my touchstone. Article II of the Constitution says the president must quote 'take care to faithfully enforce the law.' Federal immigration law says if someone is apprehended here illegally, they must be deported."

"As president that's exactly what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna enforce the law. We are going to deport those here illegally, secure the borders, and keep this country safe," he continued. "And that astonishes many in the media but it should be the president's responsibility, especially in an age of terror."

Cruz emphasized the frontline of terror was both in airports and the southern border. Turning to Gonzalez, who was returned to Cuba after a long custody battle, the Texas senator emphasized the episode as a sad chapter in American history.

"I suspect you are referring to Elian Gonzalez, who they actually sent goons in to snatch a six-year-old boy and wrongly return him to an oppressive Communist dictatorship. That was a sad day for America when you saw the federal government sending stormtroopers with machine guns to grab a six-year-child whose mother had died trying to give him freedom and instead for us to send him back to Fidel Castro."

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

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