Paul lays out steps to provide permanent legal status for illegal immigrants
March 19th, 2013
12:34 PM ET
1 year ago

Paul lays out steps to provide permanent legal status for illegal immigrants

Washington (CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday waded deeper into an issue fraught with political opportunity and risks: further clarifying his ideas on immigration reform by laying out steps to eventually provide permanent legal status for the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S.

"I think the conversation needs to start by acknowledging that we aren't going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants," Paul said.

Sen. Rand Paul appears on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. ET, only on CNN.


The senator has previously made clear his position. Yet a widely-watched announcement will surely put him at odds with many of his own tea party supporters – and stoke louder claims that Paul is courting Hispanics ahead of a potential 2016 presidential run.

Paul's proposal stands firm on an oft-stated Republican stance: any immigration solution must first involve securing the nation's borders. But it is his insistence on allowing millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally to remain that could hurt his standing with conservatives who criticize such a move as amnesty.

Paul delivered the Tuesday speech to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gathered for sessions in Washington. While policy watchers will study the substance of Paul's proposals, political observers are sure to seize on the audience: a consortium of business leaders and entrepreneurs which bills itself as the nation's largest Hispanic business organization.

Aware of the growing influence of Hispanics in national elections - they overwhelmingly backed President Obama's re-election - Paul began his speech with personal anecdotes of his understanding of their culture and frequent plight.

"I lived, worked, played and grew up alongside Latinos," the Kentucky senator said, recalling his Texas upbringing. "As a teenager I worked alongside immigrants mowing lawns and putting in landscaping around businesses."

"At a young age, I came to understand that it makes a difference whether you are a documented immigrant or an undocumented immigrant, that the existence was not easy for the undocumented but that opportunity in America somehow trumped even the poor living conditions and low pay."

Paul criticized his own party for what he called "harsh rhetoric over immigration" that has "obscured our respect and admiration for immigrants and their contribution to America."

"Republicans have been losing both the respect and votes of a group of people who already identify with many of our beliefs in family and faith, and conservative values," Paul said.

From there, he laid out what he likened to a common-sense immigration plan. A first and critical step: securing the nation's borders.

"It's absolutely vital for both the success of our immigration policy and for the purposes of national security that we do secure our borders," Paul said. "Not to stop most immigrants from coming – we welcome them and in fact should seek to increase legal immigration."

Paul's proposal would mandate that border and other officials certify border security steps and that Congress would vote on the veracity of those steps for several years.

With that, Paul stated, conservatives would be ready to swallow the notion of millions of illegal immigrants staying in the country.

"If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you," Paul said.

His plan would provide work visas for the undocumented, with a Congressional panel determining how many visas would be given each year.

The plan would bring "these workers out of the shadows and into becoming and being taxpaying members of society," Paul said in his speech.

In a recent column for the Washington Times, Paul suggested normalizing about 2 million undocumented citizens per year.

"I would start with Dream Act kids, children brought here illegally as minors. Normalization would get them a temporary Visa but would not put them ahead of anyone already waiting to enter the country. These undocumented persons would now be documented but they would still have to wait in line like everyone else. But their path to permanent legal status would be no faster than those currently waiting in line," Paul wrote.

Many conservatives – especially tea partiers who support Paul – call such measures amnesty. In recent elections, some activists have defeated Republicans who have supported plans that would provide an eventual path to citizenship.

Should Paul decide to run for president, his stance could prove problematic. Apparently sensing backlash, Paul addressed the criticism, head on during the speech.

"Conservatives, myself included, are wary of amnesty. In fact, if you read the news already, I'm already being accused of it – and I haven't even given my speech yet," the senator said. "Amnesty is kind of who wants to make up the definition. But I'd say, what we have now is de facto amnesty."

Paul continued: "The solution doesn't have to be amnesty or deportation. Maybe there's a middle ground that we call probation where those who came illegally – who did break the law, have a period that they have to go through called a probationary period. My plan will not, though – this is where I disagree with some in the bipartisan plan – will not impose a national ID card. It will also not have mandatory e-Verify. I don't mind if there's e-Verify that's maybe related to the tax code somehow. But I don't like the idea of making every business owner a policeman."

The Kentucky Republican's remarks come as Congress and the Obama administration ready to tackle the issue of immigration reform. Shortly after his inauguration, the president made clear it is a high priority for his second term. Additionally, a bipartisan group of senators have been working on a framework for immigration reform that would include an eventual pathway to citizenship.


Filed under: Immigration • Rand Paul
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Guest

    No budget, no reform. Take care of our vets first, our elderly, and our children...then maybe the following:
    -provide "probationary" legal status w/no promise of citizenship
    -come forward by this date, TBD, to declare your presence, provide documentation, complete back ground check, fingerprint, etc
    -if you pass all of that, not pending charges, are who you say you are – be provided 5 year probabtionary status and valid ID.
    -once all have come forward, our borders are proven secure, we have a five year window to determine potential follow on requirements for a path to citizenship

    If you dont like that, go back to where you came from and steal from them!

    March 19, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. Pete

    I think Rand should have a border hut built and personally hand out green cards to Mexicans or others crossing our borders ..It'll more productive than fillibustering over a stupid drone deal just to hear Holder say"NO"..Republicans ignorence personified !!

    March 19, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. rr

    I know someone who just yesterday went to the VA to have blood work done and it took him 5 hours before he was seen. Take care of our vets first. They deserve better treatment now.

    March 19, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. Wes Scott

    I think the conversation starts with the realization that the line for citizenship begins on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BORDER!

    What ID10Ts like Rand Paul do not understand is that we do NOT need to deport 12 million illegal immigrants. All we need to do is approve E-verify and crack down on those who employ or provide housing to illegal immigrants. Without housing and employment they will self-deport saving us the cost of returning them to their countries of origin.

    March 19, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. jonnyg

    I'd be for one final amnesty in trade for a secure border and the agreement that the federal government will enforce it's own laws moving forward so we aren't debating an even bigger amnesty in 5 years

    March 19, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. Nsikan

    Keep talking young man!

    March 19, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. joe

    wes scott. well said, instead of laying the blame on illegals, start punishing the one who are providing them illegally.

    March 19, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. t

    .......Paul has some great ideas, BUT, on the total, I cannot support him.

    March 19, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. California Conservative

    Without securing the border first it's all a sham and will only encourage many more to come just as it did when Reagan did it.

    History will repeat itself.

    March 19, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    jonnyg

    I'd be for one final amnesty in trade for a secure border and the agreement that the federal government will enforce it's own laws moving forward so we aren't debating an even bigger amnesty in 5 years
    --------------
    The federal government has been enforcing the borders more than at anytime in our history. We have had records numbers of agents on the southern border, record numbers of deportaitons, and record numbers of people intercepted along the border. But, the problem has been one of funding. A 2000 mile, fully secured, high tech fence along our Mexican border would be expensive and time consuming to construct.

    But, hey. Deficit spending Republicans don't care about costs.

    March 19, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Wes Scott wrote:

    What ID10Ts like Rand Paul do not understand is that we do NOT need to deport 12 million illegal immigrants. All we need to do is approve E-verify and crack down on those who employ or provide housing to illegal immigrants. Without housing and employment they will self-deport saving us the cost of returning them to their countries of origin.
    -------------------
    Actually, the business wing of the Republican Party like having all of the cheap labor, ready and available. That's why they keep cutting the budgets for E-Verify and prosecuting violators.

    March 19, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. penguin

    Our forefathers came over here merely by hopping on a boat, docking at Ellis Island, and being immediately processed in and offered a path to citizenship. We have a large number of "illegals" only because we refuse to process them in within a reasonable time span. A young hispanic coming to America to work can't wait the several years it takes to come here "legally"

    March 19, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    Rudy, if they wanted to, they could solve most of this overnight. If they put half the resources into illegal immigration that they put into the drug war, this would be licked in short order. But as you say, they don't really want to fix it.

    Don't you find it funny that one of the few areas where dems and reps agree is the HB-1 visa increases?

    March 19, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. edward_s

    e-verify if enforced would help with the probem. We have unemployment that can be reduced if we filter out the one's without papers. No work and shelter would deter some. Some will still huddle up in homes of legals. If e-verify applies to them then the numbers would be reduced more.

    March 19, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Ralph C.

    Let's deport Tea Baggers instead!

    March 19, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. Boomer in Mo

    Penguin, they also can't afford the bribes that some U.S. embassy personnel require before they can get to the correct office to start the legal paperwork before they ever come here, at least in Central America from what I've been told by one illegal anyway. He said that is why he came in illegally.

    March 19, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Jim

    And why would we not deport them? If they cost us in detention facilites about $160/day, the airline tocket to Mexico City woukd be repaid in less than a week. We welcome those that immigrate through our legal process, but if your first action coming here is to commit a crime by doing so illegally, then get them out of here.

    March 19, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Nothing At All

    Illegals believe in conservative values by boldly breaking the immigration laws.

    March 19, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. nothing new here

    I just wish this country would be more supportive of LEGAL citizens first.
    This country wastes billions on this stupid war on drugs, and endless wars in foreign countries. This government is too busy sticking it's nose into the bedroom affairs of legal consenting adults. Legal citizens are taxed to death, fined into bankruptcy, and each and every one of us could be breaking some law, without even knowing it.
    Personally, I think people should immigrate to this country according to our current laws, which there are plenty of laws on the books concerning immigration. I have nothing against immigrants, believe me I don't. I just have a big problem with out-of-control government that does not treat citizens with greater respect.

    March 19, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Jim

    And why would we not deport them? If they cost us in detention facilites about $160/day, the airline tocket to Mexico City woukd be repaid in less than a week.
    -----------
    What was it Pres. Obama called it? Oh yeah, simple math.

    If they cost "about $160/day" as you say, then it would cost well over $1.5 billion per day to incarcerate them.
    If we pack 300 of them onto a flight apiece, then it would take well more than 35,000 flights to move all of them.

    Finally, you seem to suggest that we could be repaid within a week. Repaid by whom, may I ask?

    March 19, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. stevetall

    Good plan, Rand. 12 million more votes for the Democrats. You may not be as dim as you spend all your time trying to convince us that you are.

    March 19, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. They call me joe.....

    Wait im hispanic(not mexican of course) and i can't stand him.

    March 19, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Ray

    This immigration thing is a ploy by both sides. Introduce a stipulation that any illegal granted resident status cannot vote for 15 or 20 years and oth sides will lose interest. Follow the money??? usually ,but this time it is follow the votes.

    March 19, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. ghostriter

    stevetall, that is the least of your problems. Of course, simply thinking that any hispanics illegals would just vote democrat is slightly racist. That not withstanding, your party is simply going for votes. I understand you thought your party was above pandering, but they are just politicians. The sooner you folks realize that your party is out for self, the sooner you can start seeing the light.

    March 19, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. pjoe

    Immigration Reform?

    Let's try something totally different. Arrest the people who are charged with enforcing the law but are not doing their duty ... or better yet, arrest the people who are preventing the laws from being enforced.

    March 19, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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