Today, Sen. Rand Paul is expected to endorse a pathway to citizenship and immigration reform. In the wake of the 2012 election, the RNC released their autopsy report, and found that embracing immigration reform was essential to its political survival. Although, the continuing problem of illegal immigration is due to government inaction from both sides of the aisle. Sen. Paul will make this announcement at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and we shall see how conservative react to this development. He recently rocked CPAC last week, with an passionate plea for conservative to respect the Constitution, and never compromise on the Madisonian ideas of limited government. However, from transcript of the speech obtained by CQ Roll Call and other, Paul doesn’t give a direct endorsement of a pathway to citizenship, which many in the conservative base call amnesty.
According to Humberto Sanchez of Roll Call, Sen. Paul said:
Republicans need to become parents of a new future with Latino voters or we will need to resign ourselves to permanent minority status…the Republican Party has insisted for years that we stand for freedom and family values. I am most proud of my party when it stands for both.
…excerpts obtained by CQ Roll Call did not include any direct endorsement.
“Our land should be one of assimilation, not hiding in the shadows,” was as far as the excerpts went in that regard.
“Hispanics should be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base,” Paul continued. “That they have steadily drifted away from the GOP in each election says more about Republicans than it does Hispanics.” A strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit is also a characteristic prized by both Latinos and Republicans, Paul will argue.
“America’s strength has always been that we are a melting pot with room for those who dare to dream,” Paul said. “I’ve seen firsthand what it is like for new immigrants in Texas. I’ve never met a new immigrant looking for a free lunch. The question is: How do we now reflect this in our 21st century immigration policy?”
“In order to bring conservatives to this cause, however, those who work for reform must understand that a real solution must ensure that our borders are secure,” he continued. “It must modernize our immigration controls and databases. It must allow for as much legal immigration as our workforce requires. And it must treat those who are already here with understanding and compassion — without also unduly rewarding them for coming illegally.” Republicans need to give birth to a new attitude toward immigrants, an attitude that sees immigrants as assets not liabilities,” Paul said.”
ABC reports that Paul’s plan:
Like the Senate group…would aim to secure the border before illegal immigrants could begin taking steps toward citizenship, and he emphasizes this as a necessary first step to get support from conservatives.
He doesn’t specify how the border would be made more secure but says the Border Patrol and an inspector general would have to sign off. Congress would also have to agree annually for five years that border security was progressing in order for the other reforms Paul envisions to keep moving forward.
In year two of his plan, illegal immigrants would begin to be issued temporary work visas, and would have to wait in line behind those already in the system before moving forward toward citizenship. A bipartisan panel would determine the number of visas per year. High-tech visas would be expanded and a special visa for entrepreneurs would be issued.
Different from other approaches, 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.”
Some on the right will say that for these illegal immigrants to “wait in line,” they should go back to their home countries and apply for green cards just like every legal immigrant in the U.S has done. Some will take issue with Paul not supporting workforce verification systems, and others will take umbrage at the notion he would back immigration reform in general. However, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s one of the many issues that’s keeping the Republican Party stagnant with this key demographic, and we’ll be flirting with suicide if we don’t start engaging with Latinos now. There’s going to be a lot of twists and turns in this debate. Let’s see how Rand plays this out. It could be a good indicator of how much sway the libertarian-leaning wing of the Republican Party has in the U.S. Senate, and whether that can be translated into political success with the electorate if they start to take the reins.