In recent weeks, thousands of migrants have been arriving at the US border with Mexico, many of them clearly inspired by the election of Joe Biden, and his decision to let the most vulnerable asylum-seekers wait in the US as their cases are heard, rather then in Mexico, as was the policy under Donald Trump.
The surge in numbers has overwhelmed Border Patrol officials, who are currently caring for more than 5,000 unaccompanied minors. There are also many women, children and family groups.
Mr Cruz, a Texas senator had said he would lead a delegation to the border for Republicans to see the situation themselves. He claimed he wanted the media to accompany him, pointing out correctly that the media has, with one exception, not been granted access.
Few seemed to know the senator would livestream during a midnight visit to the banks of the Rio Grande, which marks the border with Mexico.
“We’re at the Rio Grande, the water is right behind me. I’m on the Texas border along with 18 senators, we made the trip to see the crisis that is playing out,” he says in the video.
“They’ve already gone to detention facilities that are overrun. Many of them with families, small children. We saw multiple mothers who were nursing infant babies who just crossed over, and were being housed in outdoor holding pens, where they were sleeping on the floor and nursing their babies.”
He adds: “On the other side of the river is Mexico. On the other side of the river we have been listening to and seeing, cartel members, human traffickers, right on the other side of the river, waving flashlights, yelling and taunting Americans, taunting the Border Patrol, because they know that under the current policy the Biden administration, they can float over here – they’re getting paid $4,000 or $5,000 a person to smuggle them into this country.”
Mr Cruz claimed that people entering the country were testing higher for Covid than members of the public. He claimed it amounted to both a humanitarian and public health crisis, as as well as an issue of national security.
“It’s time for the Biden administration to put an end to it, and to stop sanctioning lawless chaos on our southern border,” he says.
Critics of Mr Cruz, who was recently at the centre of controversy for taking his family to the Mexican resort of Cancun as his state suffered a bad winter storm that knocked out power and water supplies for millions of his constituents, pointed out that he and other Republicans have for decades stopped any meaningful or comprehensive immigration reform.
Earlier this week, Cindy Candia, who works with the migrant rights group Angry Tias and Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, told The Independent she expected Mr Biden would face intense criticism over his actions, even though only some asylum seekers are being permitted to enter, and the border is not “open”.
“[Republicans] always try to create a problem,” she said. Asked why so many people who boasted of America’s status as a migrant nation did not extend the same logic to people seeking to enter the country from Mexico, she said: “It’s because they are brown.”
Children in custody inside Texas migrant centre
Mr Cruz was also mocked on Twitter for his midnight posting from the riverbank.
One person accused him of sounding like like celebrated naturalist David Attenborough.
Another, Liz Mills, wrote: “10/10 those weren’t traffickers OR cartel members. They were probably kids having a party or the Mexican version of Border Control. No smuggler of any kind is gonna be that loud in the middle of the night while they’re trying to do shady s***.”
The writer Dame JE Marshall, wrote: “Ted Cruz is feeding his agenda instead of helping humanity. Every situation, every person is fodder to him. Since he can’t rip babies from their mothers anymore he is applying new spin, projecting spin on shadows from the bushes as if he is 007.”
Some tweets were in support of the senator and claimed he was doing better journalism than the media. “Thank you Senator! God bless you and your family,” wrote Danner Danos.