Washington (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul called on his fellow Republicans to be more welcoming of immigrants Tuesday night in a speech where he also sharply criticized President Barack Obama and his congressional colleagues for failing to reduce the nation's debt.
"We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future," the Kentucky Republican said during the "tea party response" to Obama's State of the Union address. "We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, 'If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you.'"
Paul's remarks about immigrants came as GOP leaders and activists grapple with what the party's position should be on how best to address the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. A handful of Democratic and Republican senators, including Marco Rubio, are working on immigration reform legislation. Rubio delivered the official Republican response following Obama's speech.
Paul, who was critical of both Democrats and Republicans in his speech, urged the president and Congress to allow $1.2 trillion in cuts to domestic and military programs – known as the sequester – to happen as a step towards reducing the debt.
"Not only should the sequester stand, many pundits say the sequester really needs to be at least $4 trillion to avoid another downgrade of America's credit rating," Paul said. "Both parties will have to agree to cut, or we will never fix our fiscal mess."
And the Kentucky Republican called out Democrats and Republicans for participating in a culture that he alleges fails to keep the taxpayers' best interests in mind.
"It is often said that there is not enough bipartisanship up here," Paul said. "That is not true. In fact, there is plenty. Both parties have been guilty of spending too much, of protecting their sacred cows, of backroom deals in which everyone up here wins, but every taxpayer loses. It is time for a new bipartisan consensus. It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud."
In his speech, Paul also called out the president's use of drones, and their potential for killing Americans abroad without a trial
"We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it," Paul said in his remarks. "We cannot and will not allow any President to act as if he were a king."
"We will not tolerate secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial," he continued.
The Tea Party Express, a political action committee that champions conservative principles, sponsored Paul's speech, which originated from the National Press Club in Washington.
Paul and Rubio are both expected to seriously consider running for the White House in 2016, adding more intrigue to the back-to-back speeches.
Whom are the Republicans trying to fool? Till about three months back, they did not have a single good word to say about immigrants, especially Spanish speaking people. Not a single GOP leader, big or small, including their proposed 2016 Presidential candidate, contradicted Romney when he said illegal immigrants should self-deport! But suddenly it has dawned on them that if they do not take them into GOP fold, their party is unlikely to come to power ever. That being the fact, it will be quite hard for them to explain how they consider those immigrants as an 'asset' now whom they scorned only a few months back.
We will take your word for it and limit your term. How dare you mention the credit rating drop when it was the Republicans (mainly Tea Party ) who caused it.
Why don't the Republicans call their proposal by it's real name, austerity. Because ask England how all those cuts are working for them, it is exactly what they did under Cameron and now they are in a world of hurt.
Since when do we give the Republicans TWO opportunties for rebuttal? The Tea Party nuts are going to be the death of our nation.
Rand Paul is like the guy who say's " Take my advice , I'm not using it " .
Whoa is me , sacred cows and Aqua Buddhas !
Paul / Rubio
Let us spend your money 2016
Good speech. Makes sense. But Rand's not an electrifying speaker and he's not two-faced, and Americans don't care about liberty and justice anymore, so he doesn't stand a chance
So, TeaPartiers –
Are you going to line up at the Mexican border to welcome the immigration – like Rand wants you to.....?
Like broken records,the spending lies continue. They have nothing else so lie,lie,lie.
What a waste of time (LOL)
.....Keep it up Paul.....................Hillary LOVES IT...........
This is funny, I'd rather pay taxes to help those who need it in hopes that it's available to me if I ever do. It's a proven fact that those unemployed who are struggling but are supported gain employment at a faster rate than those who do not.
There's a lot of hard working americans who want jobs as well. What solution do you have for that Mr Paul? Rubio is prove that immigration reform doesnt guarantee votes but being ignorant racist and stupid does guarantee we wont vote for the gop
As an individual that immigrated legally I fully agree the USA should welcome legal immigration, not illegal. There is a difference. We dealt with the burden of meeting all legal requirements and so should everyone else. I agree that we should streamline the process so that it doesn't take so long or isn't so difficult, but to just legalize millions that didn't follow the rules is BS. The problem for some people that want to immigrate to the USA is that if the same standards that are applied to immigrants from Western Europe are applied to them then they would not gain entry to the USA which is why they come over illegally. Some of those standards require that you be financially self-sufficient. Meaning, you have enough money to support yourself and or a firm job offer that pays you enough to not become a burden on the American government, etc.
To not become a burden is what I meant to write.
What fog-filled atmosphere does Paul breathe?
Criticizing fellow Republicans? That breaks Saint Ronald of Regan's 11th Commandment! Of course, Bobby Jindal is guilty of that, too, but he is considered an acceptable Republican, so it's OK from him.