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March 20, 2013

ROLL CALL: Can Rand Paul Bring the Tea Party Along on Immigration?

Sen. Rand Paul’s support for comprehensive immigration changes and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants could go a long way toward helping get a bill into law, overhaul advocates and his fellow Republicans believe.

It’s “a signal to the tea party and libertarian right that immigration reform is OK,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of left-leaning immigration advocacy group America’s Voice.

The Kentucky tea party favorite announced his support in a speech Tuesday to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and he called on fellow Republicans to embrace immigration revisions. He also told reporters that he was receptive to allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually apply for citizenship, but he declined to use what has become a loaded phrase in conservative circles: a path to citizenship.

The Tea Party is mostly about fiscal conservatism, so I’m not sure that there is a Tea Party position on immigration, though the Tea Party movement tends to be skeptical of things that the elites think need to be done quietly, without informing the unwashed. If you want support for your bill, be very, very clear about what’s in it or you’ll lose trust.

Of course, Obama’s economic policies are turning us into the kind of country that people emigrate from, not immigrate to. Perhaps part of any immigration deal should involve tax-free status for U.S. expats . . . .

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