Sen. Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba, told NPR that though he came to the country legally, he essentially bribed an official to get out of Cuba so he could come over.
"I came to this country legally," Cruz's father said in an interview. "I came here with a legal visa, and ... every step of the way, I have been here legally."
In an interview near his home outside Dallas, the elder Cruz says that as a teenager, he fought alongside Fidel Castro's forces to overthrow Cuba's U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. He was caught by Batista's forces, he says, and jailed and beaten before being released. It was 1957, and Cruz decided to get out of Cuba by applying to the University of Texas. Upon being admitted, he adds, he got a four-year student visa at the U.S. Consulate in Havana.
"Then the only other thing that I needed was an exit permit from the Batista government," Cruz recalls. "A friend of the family, a lawyer friend of my father, basically bribed a Batista official to stamp my passport with an exit permit."
Cruz, a Republican from Texas who opposes the pathway to citizenship in the "Gang of Eight's" Senate bill, has said: "In my opinion, if we allow those who are here illegally to be put on a path to citizenship, that is incredibly unfair to those who follow the rules."