Rand Paul on Immigration
PAUL: What I want to do first is secure the border. If we secure the border and we can say who is coming, who is going, and only people come, come legally, the 11 million that are here, I think there could be a work status for them. And I think what I have tried to say is, what we want is more legal immigration, so we have less illegal immigration. But I am open to immigration reform. I voted against the bill that came forward, though, primarily because it limited the number of legal work visas.
PAUL: I think that everyone needs to be for some form of immigration reform because the status quo is untenable. I think that if we do nothing, 11 million more people may be coming illegally, so we have to do something. But here's the conundrum, I think the conundrum that is really being pointed out by the children being dumped on the border right now--there's a humanitarian disaster of 50,000 kids being dumped on this side of our border. It's because you have a beacon, forgiveness, and you don't have a secure border. I am for immigration reform, but I insist that you secure the border first because if you have a beacon, of some kind of forgiveness, without a secure border, the whole world will come.
PAUL: I think that that's the whole point: What is amnesty? Because, [for those who say] "no deportation and no amnesty," well, if you're not going to deport people you are somehow changing the current law because the current law says everybody must go.
Q: But you've said that the party should give up this word "amnesty"?
PAUL: I think we need to get beyond it. We need some form of immigration reform.
Q: And a path to citizenship?
PAUL: Well, the path to citizenship is a longer, more difficult goal.
Q: But you don't rule it out as an end game?
PAUL: What I would say is that at this point in time I don't think any type of immigration reform will get out of Washington that includes a path to citizenship. But I do think that there is a path to a secure border and an expanded work visa program.
(VIDEO CLIP): JEB BUSH: Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love.
Q: Do you agree with him on this?
PAUL: You know, I think he might have been more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this. But I don't want to say, oh, he's terrible for saying this. If it were me, what I would have said is, people who seek the American dream are not bad people.
Q: Even if they came into this country illegally?
PAUL: They are not bad people. However, we can't invite the whole world. When you say they're doing an act of love and you don't follow it up with, "but we have to control the border," people think well because they're doing this for kind reasons that the whole world can come to our country.
In our zeal for border control, Republicans have been losing both the respect and votes of a group of people who already identify with our belief in family, faith, and conservative values. Hispanics should be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base. That they have steadily drifted away from the GOP in each election says more about Republicans than it does about Hispanics. Defense of the unborn and defense of traditional marriage are Republican issues that should resonate with Latinos but have been obscured by the misperception that Republicans are hostile to immigrants.
PAUL: Well, that's not the main part of my plan. The main part of my plan is trust but verify, that says we have to have border security. The amendment that I will add to the bipartisan plan will ensure that there is border security and that Congress gets to vote on that border security every year, in order for it to go forward. With regard to E-verify, it's not that I'm opposed to some sort of database check. For example, when you come into the country, I think the country should do a background check on you to find out if you are a felon or if there's a problem. So I'm not against any kind of checking, I just would prefer the government to be the policeman and not the businessman.
Paul's path to citizenship would come with conditions that could make it long and difficult for illegal immigrants. Chief among these, Congress would have to agree first that progress was being made on border security.
Paul's speech is peppered with Spanish phrases from his youth in Texas, references to his immigrant grandparents and praise for Latino culture. He says his party must adopt a new face toward Hispanics and says conservatives must be part of it. "Immigration reform will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution. I am here today to begin that conversation," Paul says. "Let's start that conversation by acknowledging we aren't going to deport" the millions already here, he says.
Paul would not attempt to crack down on employers by expanding working verification systems, something he says is tantamount to "forcing businesses to become policemen."
"My plan will not grant amnesty or move anyone to the front of the line," Paul says. "But what we have now is de facto amnesty."
PAUL: We had 45 million people nationwide that were not receiving or didn't have health insurance. A third of them were in the country illegally and were illegal aliens. And I don't think we should be giving illegal aliens health insurance.
Q: No, that's not true. Illegal aliens are not covered by "Obamacare."
PAUL: I know, but it's illegal to ask them if they're illegal, so it's sort of a Catch-22. The Republicans kept introducing an amendment to Obamacare to say, "You can ask if they're illegal aliens," and the Democrats kept shooting it down, saying, "No, you can't ask whether they're here legally or illegally."
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