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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has accused his opponent, Democrat Beto O’Rourke, of illegally funding the migrant caravan traveling from Central America to the U.S., based on a video from fringe activist group Project Veritas.
“Two basic Qs every reporter should ask Beto today: (1) should the “caravan” be allowed to cross illegally into Texas? (Beto refuses to answer.) And (2) did your campaign dollars illegally fund their doing so,” Cruz tweeted on Friday, apparently hoping to capitalize on the discord surrounding the caravan.
Two basic Qs every reporter should ask Beto today: (1) should the “caravan” be allowed to cross illegally into Texas? (Beto refuses to answer.) And (2) did your campaign dollars illegally fund their doing so? https://t.co/5HcePn3AGs— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 2, 2018
Cruz’s source, the Project Veritas video, instead seems to portray O’Rourke’s campaign staff helping asylum-seekers already in Texas, who have no relationship to those currently headed to the southern border.
The undercover video shows O’Rourke staffers discussing using campaign debit cards to buy supplies for asylum-seekers already in the U.S. and seeking shelter at churches. It is legal to seek asylum in the U.S., and to file a claim for asylum even after crossing the U.S. border illegally, as HuffPo points out. The immigrants referenced in the video had apparently been processed by immigration officials and dropped off at a bus station.
It is also legal for political campaigns to donate to charity.
“Staff members took it upon themselves to use prepaid cards from one of our more than 700 field offices to buy baby wipes, diapers, water, fruit and granola bars, and donate them to a local humanitarian nonprofit named Annunciation House that helps mothers and children in the community,” O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans told HuffPo. “The value was under $300 and it will be appropriately reported to the FEC.”
Cruz issued a press release on Friday asking O’Rourke to “give Texans an answer on what should be done with the caravan of thousands of illegal immigrants traveling toward the U.S.-Mexico border.”
O’Rourke accused the Republican senator of dividing voters by appealing to a highly polarizing issue: “Ted Cruz pushes fear and paranoia because he wants to divide and mislead Texans four days before this election,” he said. “We should be bringing people together and defining ourselves not by who we are scared of but what we want to achieve.”
Stéphanie Fillion is a French-Canadian journalist covering politics and foreign affairs in Montreal, Canada. She has worked for Radio-Canada in Vancouver and was a San Paolo fellow at La Stampa in Turin. In 2015, she won the Eu-Canada Young Journalist Award. She holds an M.A. in Journalism, Politics and Global Affairs from Columbia Journalism School and a B.A. in Comparative Politics, History and Italian Studies from McGill University. Her work appeared in outlets such as Quartz, Vice News, Ipolitics, and PassBlue.