Rand Paul Embraces Immigration Reform

The backing of the Tea Party favorite is a new and important milepost on the long road to a comprehensive immigration-reform bill.

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Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky gestures at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland March 14, 2013.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s decision to back a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is a new and important milepost on the long road to a comprehensive immigration bill. In a speech Tuesday morning to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Tea Party favorite urged conservatives to embrace immigration reform, arguing that the status quo is untenable and the Republican Party should help shape legislation to overhaul a balky immigration system.

“Immigration reform will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution. I am here today to begin that conversation,” Paul said. “Let’s start that conversation by acknowledging we aren’t going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants. If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you.”

The path to citizenship favored by Paul differs in important ways from the framework that a bipartisan group of his Senate colleagues are currently hashing out. The Kentuckian’s vision is predicated on a secure border, which would have to be certified by border patrol forces and upheld by Congress. It calls for a bipartisan Congressional panel to determine how many work visas to hand out, an issue that Senate negotiators have partially delegated to powerful labor unions and business groups. It would not include a national ID card or a mandatory E-Verify program, which many conservatives favor.

But Paul’s speech was the latest sign that conservatives are ready to jettison their staunch opposition to granting illegal immigrants the privilege of citizenship.”The solution doesn’t have to be amnesty or deportation. A middle ground might be called probation, where those who came illegally become legal through a probationary period,” said Paul, who offered scant details about how the transition would work.

Instead, Paul’s speech was peppered with references to his upbringing alongside Latinos in Texas and his love of Latin culture. This focus, on the human side of a thorny policy issue, underscores the belief within the GOP that its toxic rhetoric on immigration has come to jeopardize its political future. “The vast majority of Latino voters agree with us on these issues,  but Republicans have pushed them away with harsh rhetoric over immigration,” Paul said. “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.”

Indeed, Mitt Romney garnered a meager 27% of Hispanic voters in November. His dismal performance with Latinos has triggered a hairpin turn on immigration for many Republicans, including Paul himself. In 2009, the Tea Party upstart proposed building an underground electrified fence as a way to secure the border. Last August, the Republican Party adopted a national platform that backed “self-deportation” and mandatory employer checks as solutions to the problem of illegal immigration. On Monday, a report on the future of the Republican Party commissioned by the RNC recommended that it “embrace and champion” comprehensive reforms.

This shift is particularly prominent among prospective 2016 presidential contenders. Paul, who is fresh off a filibuster opposing the Obama Administration’s drone policy that earned bipartisan plaudits and who won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, becomes the fourth potential candidate to embrace immigration reform. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a longtime proponent. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is a member of the Senate’s Gang of Eight on immigration. And on the House side, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan — who cosponsored a bipartisan 2005 bill to initiate comprehensive reform without amnesty — is serving as an adviser to the not-so-secret bipartisan group of eight representatives who are quietly hashing out their own parallel framework.

In private conversations, Ryan has sought to frame reform to fellow conservatives as both a moral and economic imperative. Paul took a similar tack in his speech Tuesday. “Prudence, compassion and thrift all point us toward the same goal: bringing these workers out of the shadows and into being taxpaying members of society,” he said. “Imagine 12 million people who are already here coming out of the shadows to become new taxpayers. Twelve million more people assimilating into society. Twelve million more people being productive contributors.”

That four viable Republican presidential candidates have urged the party to shift its position is a critical sign that the old political ice pack has shattered at the highest levels. In the 2012 race, Mitt Romney’s immigration advisers hailed from the restrictionist wing that crafted Arizona’s so-called show-me-your-papers law. Rick Perry was bruised by his support for in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants.

Now, most Republicans in Washington have come to recognize the political damage their dogma has inflicted. Many think stasis is more dangerous than substantive change, regardless of how tricky the issue may be. “It’s significant,” Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a longtime leader in the quest for comprehensive immigration-reform, said of Paul’s remarks at a Tuesday breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “The moment is politically ripe,” Gutierrez added, to finally pass a bill in the narrow window between early April, when legislation will be introduced, and the end of July, when President Obama hopes to sign it into law.

33 comments
Hermione
Hermione

Rand Paul would do better to stick by some of the principles that his father, Ron Paul, established.

It is more important to get the government out of the marriage business, and to stop this endless war on marijuana.  Legal, hardworking, taxpaying American citizens are being harassed by our own government, and for what?  Over a marijuana joint, gay marriage?  Seriously.

Deal with this overblown, interfering government first.  Respect our people, and take care of them first.  As far as immigration is concerned, I have no problem with people immigrating to this country legally.  But don't treat our own citizens like nothing more than monied beasts of burden.

DaveFrancis
DaveFrancis

Prior to any form ofpotential legitimacy for illegal aliens the Real “R-E-A-L” fences (2 or 3) parallel fences, as according to the 2006 Secure Fence Act (H.R. 6061), must be revised and built , without any changes to the original blueprint. The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush. It authorized the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along the border with Mexico. 2006. But the vast majority of the requirement was supposedly met with vehicle barriers and single-layer pedestrian fence. The original act specifically called for double-layer fencing, and only that only 36.3 miles of double-layered fencing that currently exist. However, the act was later amended to allow Border Security the judgment to determine which type of fencing was appropriate for diverse areas, which ended with the underfunding and lies, thus getting the attention of Pro-Sovereignty immigration organization AMERICA PATROL. The double layer fence stretching fifteen miles was to meet up with its counterpart.

Those activists who are for extending the fencing already have a model they can look to: a fence the federal government built more than 10 years ago along a 15-mile-stretch in San Diego, California to the coastal surf. The design is 15 to 20 foot structure, with the internal fence as seen outside maximum security prison enclosures, festooned with a razor concertina wire. Within these fencing barriers all weather access of fast alert roadways for Border Patrol interdiction transport. Themore effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial drones, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, with cameras; and physical infrastructure improvements to prevent unlawful entry by aliens into the United States and facilitate access to the international land and maritime borders byCustoms and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, and vehicle barriers. On the American Patrol website there are videos and other information about the single fence, the real miles constructed, that separates us from South American countries and unequaled poverty.

A second law that must be demanded by THE PEOPLE is the mandatory E-Verify (H.R. 140) provision as part as the Save Act. E-Verify are increasing in its success rate, by connecting with State Department Vehicles and able to check a workers eligibility to work in the United States. This must be an imperative law to finally stop employers from hiring illegal aliens and being held accountable for cheating American workers, unless mitigating circumstances are involved.

There should be no excuse for not revising the hundred billion dollar annual cost of Birthright Citizenship for babies smuggled unknowingly passing agents of the government to gain citizenship. Its become a very lucrative business for people in foreign countries, sending pregnant women to America, to intentional gain citizenship for their children. The 14th amendment was included for slaves and there decedents, not for illegal aliens and it should be visited by the Supreme Court to clear up this chaos. The cost is too steep as it leads to such legislative bills as the DREAM ACT, FAMILY UNIFICATION and in time SANCTUARY CITIES. Using this route “Anchor Babies” as citizens in most cases inherits for the Mother a green card, which can then sponsor other family members. The more babies the mother has, which can be considerable, in the way of public benefits and entitlements for each child.

In conclusion its time for a new form of national ID, instead of everything based on the Social Security number that has been greatly abused. ID theft is rampant and hundreds of thousands of people find themselves without a credit card, personal data, employment as some criminal has accessed their private information. A mandated Identification card is the best answer to theft and a whole list of different positive reasons. With this plastic card containing your picture, thumb print and even a retinal scan, it will be difficult for anybody to forge it. The penalty for counterfeiting should be a term in prison and not just a fine. The same ID cards could also be used as a countrywide verification for people voting.Because of the lax regulations of the “right to vote Act” relying on a persons integrity and the threat of being prosecuted for perjury stating they are an American citizen, committing voter fraud doesn't seem to deter non-citizens from voting as its been illustrated after the presidential elections. It is my contention that Voter fraud” was prevalent in specifically Liberal States, counties and city precincts.

Right now congressional Representatives, the President are on the verge of giving a path to citizenship to people who broke our immigration laws.Our best hope to at least give no ground of any kind is to fight back by calling your politician at the Central Washington phone number at (202) 224-312. . LEARN THE VERACITY OF OUR BORDERS AND RESEARCH THE HIDDEN NEWS AND REPORTS AT AMERICANPATROL. ALSO SIGN THE PETITION AT NUMBERSUSA. Splash your Senator or Congressional House with post cards, demanding they stop the current path of overpopulation and Balkanization. Bombard Facebook and Twitter with information, as the other side do. Contact your local press and TV station, because the end is near for commonsense and also another hit on the hurting taxpayer. However the best avenue to get results is to directly phone your person in Congress via the aide and leave your argument against illegal immigration, a demand for the real wall, e-verify, repealing illegal aliens children gaining citizenship and of major importance a nation ID card for every citizen and legal resident.

Forums4Justice
Forums4Justice

Rand Paul is against using E-Verify,  despite the fact that Mandating, and Enforcing, E-Verify, would do more to stop illegal immigration than any attempt to secure the border... plus it would provide millions of jobs to Americans … Rand Paul wants to give illegal immigrants work permits, so they will have protected legal status .... despite his play on words, and however you want to spell it, that's called A-M-N-E-S-T-Y

drudown
drudown

Dear Rand:

Once I started working, I stopped writing in a diary. But I still like to write now and then off the top of my head, and truth be known, I wonder if you are sincere about what you and others said. 

Because- and maybe you can help me here- you and the GOP seem to imply that it's a lie to say "MORE government spending in our EXISTING schools" would not be a preferable alternative to the 11,000.000-20,000,000 illegal aliens than mere "citizenship".

Tell me, is it really better to be in a society Ted Cruz seems to want relegated into "fend for yourselves", I will take contributions and will keep obstructing the Left, ah me: perhaps the GOP's Libertarian regime dreams for society to someday to become Hunger Games. 

Well, Rand, I'm simply confused. 

You seem so hot and bothered about drones and was hoping we could get the Dept. of Education to borrow one and take you and the GOP on a tour of ALL our public schools. Why not "supplement" the Budget with specific taxation for our schools and teachers? Is that not what every person here illegally wants, i.e., a better life for their children? Maybe you, sir, are the one that is flat out incorrect to even imply that, before we die, the People don't want to leave the US a better place. Why try to replace the "dreams" of illegal aliens into something they do not want as much the REALITY of a BETTER LIFE for their children that were born here and are therefore American? Just this: improved lives here in America is bliss insofar that consumption drives the World economy, like the soldiers that die in the field, tell us, Huxley's own "Pre-Ford", just why the GOP refuses to raise taxes to make OUR lives better, here and now? Not even will consider it?

Never one to fall into Libertarian drone mode, I stay above it all, and see reality for what it is. 

"A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." - Ambrose Pierce

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

Nothing like a few election losses to turn high-minded principles into self-serving rationalizations, eh?

jmac
jmac

Rand Paul,  trapped by the English language and his no-amnesty; pathway-to-citizenship-angst of a party, blames reporters:      "Can't we have reform and just not call it by some names that discourage the progress from going forward?"

Maybe he can tackle "gun control" next.  



TimothyRatliffe
TimothyRatliffe

Please explain why someone would be against e-verify.

drudown
drudown

Oh, what a surprise here- Rand "Big Business" Paul wants to dilute the People's voting rights so that the special interest GOP puppeteer can manipulate the 11,000,000-20,000,000+ "new" voters into acquiescing to agendas against our own interests. Give me a break. What, the GOP holds up democratic judicial nominees under the auspices that he/she does not follow a "strict construction" of the laws but, here, inexplicably, our GOP leaders are ready, willing and able to become "activist legislators" are magically bestow citizenship to 11,000,000-20,000,000+ CITIZENS OF OTHER SOVEREIGNS?

These people here illegally cannot be magically transmuted into citizens because it creates an easier, more malleable voting bloc. It is Unconstitutional on its face and void ab initio. 

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

Along with twelve million people who are already here coming out of the shadows to become new taxpayers, twelve million more people assimilating into society and twelve million more people being productive contributors, immigration reform will add twelve million new Democrats.


ZunigaKike
ZunigaKike

@TIME @TIMEPolitics. Too late for the party to reach us out. It's pathetic and lethargic. It's a Hail Mary kind of pass to win Hispanics.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

"The Kentuckian’s vision is predicated on a secure border" And, as jmac points out, there is nothing about citizenship.

If Paul the Younger is doing this trolling for republican votes out of the Latino community he is a bit out of touch.

http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2013/3/6/hispanic_voters_stand_ready_to_reward.htm

"Medina said Latino voters are following the issue closely enough that they will be able to detect any policy position that may appear to be supportive of reform but in fact falls short of embracing a clear pathway to citizenship.

"The idea that there could be legalization but no citizenship, they oppose that in no uncertain terms," he said. "That notion of no citizenship is flat-out wrong and unacceptable. It is no solution at all."

He also said an idea floated by some in Congress that would allow for a pathway to citizenship only after border security is sufficiently improved falls short of meaningful reform.

"If somebody's definition of what a secure border is becomes the goal post, we're never going to get there,"

jmac
jmac

Erick Erickson at Red State:   "Senator Paul and I both recognize there is a need for an unskilled worker program in this nation. He grew up in Texas, where the Braceros program was popular until killed off by labor unions upset that immigrants might be taking jobs in the fields the unions could do at higher prices."    He goes on to say Paul in no way endorsed citizenship.  Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce have always been on board for slave labor.

Democrats have always been on board for treating those we bring here to do our dirty work with dignity and basic human rights.  Nothing has changed.  One side wants a free lunch; one side wants people treated like human beings.  


CharlesEdwardBrown
CharlesEdwardBrown

NO AMNESTY - The Federal Government needs to enforce the law and deport all illegal aliens. That is the law. We should not be rewarding these criminals.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Alex, thanks for insights but forgive my bitter cynicism about Rand. What is his real agenda here? Is he pulling a Romney to make himself presentable in 2016 to those outside his teavangelical base? Is he making himself appear to be on the side of the angels (again, eyes on '16) while letting the Tea's continue to block reform? Or is this the best path to militiamanship to get his wish list of border troops and a million-dollar bug zapper / electric fence? (notice any snark?) Similar to his drone filibuster, is this the case of right message / wrong messenger? Maybe after Ashley Judd kicks McConnell's ass next year, mom Naomi can do the same to Rand in '16. 


wigglwagon
wigglwagon

The penalty for employers of illegal workers should be mandatory $15,000 fine per illegal worker and mandatory 2 years in jail without parole per illegal worker.That would put an immediate end to the problem.

That is ALL the reform we need.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

More evidence that the Hate-R-Us® brand just isn't selling quite like it used to.


drudown
drudown

Dear Sen. McCain:

Ok, I get it.

In short, you don't like some of Rand's geriatric jabs and, in the immortal words of Danny Glover, are "getting too old for this $%#@." Er, I mean that you are simply sick of it. As in it gets old.

Maybe somebody could just explain why an austere, weak and impotent government is in the People's best interests. Not your campaign contributors' (short term) best interests...but the People's best interests. I haven't heard ANY ideas. 

Thanks.

Your pal,

drudown



BobJan
BobJan

@jmac for the unskilled workers program the Congress must first sign up and go through it so we don't have more unskilled politicians. These guys aren't skilled at anything except lying.

drudown
drudown

@jmac

Tell me, why does a person need "voting rights" and all the privileges and immunities of US citizenship to be "treated like a human being?" I've traveled to six continents and, quite candidly, after seeing the 3rd world feel very blessed to have been born a US citizen. But it isn't for Rand Paul, the GOP or the democrats to bestow at their caprice or for their campaign contributors' pecuniary advantage. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Media is largely controlled by conservative conglomerates (e.g., Clear Channel) and the GOP special interest puppeteer wants to ensure that it has a fresh supply of Lower Priced Labor to exploit. Get rid of unions, get rid of pesky "regulations"...in fact, Rand Paul and the Libertarians wants to get rid of "government" entirely so that Big Business will have nothing in its way, and Foreign Influence can donate handsomely via Soft Money to have the final say.

reallife
reallife

@jmac   "One side wants a free lunch;"   so you're one of us against food stamps for illegals? good for you!

survivor1962
survivor1962

and where do you propose we get the hundreds of biliions of dollars to investigate, detain and deport 12 million latinos?

Hermione
Hermione

Yes, I believe that Rand Paul is one of the people that is trying to revitalize the Republican party, by getting the party to be more centrist, or at least reconsider, it's agendas.

Which is fine by me - the GOP has drifted toooooo far to the right, esp. when it comes to the marriage debate.

reallife
reallife

@deconstructiva   oh no! i guess you're not gonna vote for him - what a shame to lose such a fair and middle of the road voter like you 

Hermione
Hermione

The best reform is to hire LEGAL Americans for a change.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@wigglwagon 

2 years in jail for trying to survive? Hey that's 2 years of room and board on the tax payers dime. Maybe public stoning would better suit your mood. Why aren't we jailing the employers? 

jmac
jmac

@reallife @jmac  The Republican Chamber of Commerce wants that free lunch.  They've always insisted that we're better off economically with them here.   Rand Paul agrees.   HE WANTS THEM HERE.    I don't.  If the Party of God wants slave labor, it will come back to bite you every time.  It can belly up for food stamps and health care for them.   You will pay for it.   You do know there's now a plan to bring in 300,000 high-level immigrants  A YEAR for top paying jobs, right?  Business thinks they can get away with paying them less money than an American-educated employee.

You get what you deserve, reallie.  

drudown
drudown

@survivor1962 

Why is it between deportation and bestowing citizenship? Our last popular vote was decided by around a mere 1,000,000 votes. How can anyone credibly contend that this will not fundamentally alter the future course of US politics? Regardless of whether the "newly minted" (ahem) citizens going to voter one way or another, why is nobody even discussing the implications of this undeniable voting bloc?