June 11th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
1 month ago

Rand Paul on immigration: GOP trapped in word 'amnesty'

(CNN) - Immigration may not have been "the paramount issue" in Eric Cantor's crushing primary loss, Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday.

The Kentucky Republican, on a conference call with reporters, added that he's still in favor of immigration reform and partly blamed Republican gridlock over the issue to a misunderstanding over the word "amnesty."

"We've been somewhat trapped by rhetoric and words, and amnesty's a word that has kind of trapped us," he said, adding that some people think it means giving undocumented immigrants a right to vote, while others say it means allowing them to obtain legal status without a penalty.

Others, he added, think it simply means not deporting those who came to the United States illegally.

"We're trapped in a word that means different things to different people," he said.

His comments came in a conference call hosted by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and Michael Bloomberg's Partnership for a New American Economy. Norquist and Bloomberg are both in favor of immigration reform.

The call was already scheduled for Wednesday morning before House Majority Leader Cantor was defeated by Dave Brat, a little-known candidate with grassroots support, in the GOP primary for Virginia's 7th Congressional District. Brat heavily campaigned on a platform against immigration reform, an issue in which Cantor was trying to make some progress.

Cantor challenger, Dave Brat, 'shocked' as results rolled in

But Paul and Norquist pointed to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's primary victory in South Carolina. Graham was one of the co-sponsors of the comprehensive immigration packaged that was passed by the Senate last year.

Paul argued that the different outcomes in the two elections indicates that immigration reform wasn't "the paramount issue" that brought down Cantor.

"It's a mistake to try to paint it and decide that one issue decided this," he said.

Jack Trammell is the Democrat who no longer has to face Eric Cantor

For his part, Paul said "I am still for it."

"I say everywhere I go I am for immigration reform," he added.

Paul, however, didn't vote for the bipartisan Senate bill last year, saying the measure's border security provisions didn't go far enough, and the bill was too limiting in the number of workers it would allow to come in to the country.

Last year he introduced an amendment that would give Congress oversight over border security and would require certain security standards be met before addressing legalization or citizenship. The amendment didn't pass.

"I've always said that I'm for it. I just want to be part of the process. I don't feel like anybody really wanted my vote because they never considered any of my suggestions," he said.

The Democratic National Committee pushed back, arguing in an email blast that by voting against the Senate bill yet stating he's pro-reform, "Rand Paul talks out of both sides of his mouth on immigration."

The senator, who's seriously weighing a presidential bid, said those who backed the bill need to recognize that there's not enough support in the GOP-controlled House to pass it.

"If you want immigration reform, there has to be openness to compromise," he said, adding that there's also a group "entrenched" on the other side who won't vote for any reform measures.

He also weighed in on the recent influx of young people from Central America who've been crossing the border and turning themselves in to U.S. Border Control agents. U.S. law prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from immediately deporting the children if they are not from Canada or Mexico.

Paul speculated that some immigrants are coming to join the military.

"This is a complicated part of immigration reform. Do I have sympathy if you served in our military and we ought to find a place for you in our country? Absolutely," he said. "But do I want to send a signal to everybody in Mexico that if you come and join our military, you get to be a citizen? That's a bad signal."

"None of this is really easy," he added.


Filed under: 2014 • Eric Cantor • Immigration • Rand Paul
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Who cares what this quack says.
    This is somebody who, if he had a chance, would go back to white and colored drinking fountains except he would add "illegals" to the mix, which BTW, should include the 300,000+ white Europeans in the US who are also here illegally!

    June 11, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    And they have nobody to blame but themselves.

    June 11, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Why do so many pictures of Rand Paul make him look like he's always holding his breathe?

    June 11, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Donna

    Where is the Ticker story about the TIDAL WAVE of illegals flooding over the borders??? They are unaccompanied KIDS. Last year there were 6,500 but htis year there have been 90,000 to date and it could go as high as 150,000!!

    All of this is DIRECTLY due to the Obama administration and his refusal to enforce our laws and create an environmene that attracts and rewards illegal aliens.

    June 11, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    "We're trapped in a word that means different things to different people,"
    ------------------------------------–
    No! You're trapped because your party has a bunch of bigots in it. They don't want to see more brown people in this country because they(white people) are becoming the minority. Plain and simple.

    June 11, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    Where is the Ticker story about the TIDAL WAVE of illegals flooding over the borders??? They are unaccompanied KIDS. Last year there were 6,500 but this year there have been 90,000 to date and it could go as high as 150,000!!

    All of this is DIRECTLY due to the Obama administration and his refusal to enforce our laws and create an environment that attracts and rewards illegal aliens.
    -----------------------------
    Seeing how you're way off topic again, I'll bite. What, specifically, would you do differently? This means I'm looking for an answer more insightful than, "enforce our borders." Please, tell us what you do differently. Don't forget, it also costs money and the border agents are dealing with sequestered cuts, too.

    June 11, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. 2_indy1600

    Just as most understand the difference between legal and illegal, most understand the difference between amnesty and pathway to citizenship. The only trap is allowing pro-amnesty dems to control the narrative, like the %47 percent used argument against Romney. Numbers are just numbers; in the case of immigration, they speak for themselves. Seal the borders instead of paying for lawyers to defend illegals as this admin is doing. Period.

    June 11, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Cayman

    Immigration reform has about as much chance of passing as Obama enforcing the border – none. Maybe the next President can make something happen. Until then they are free to come and go as they please. I am happy for our housekeeper. Everyone needs to see their family.

    June 11, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Randy or should I call you Curly Sue? Apparently you didn't get the memo. The GOP says NO immigration reform. You could find yourself back to being an optometrist before you know it....

    June 11, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    @donna, see my previous post, first today. Are you also talking about the "white" illegals or just the brown skinned ones?
    You can't differentiate between countries or races. Illegal means illegal.
    Care to elaborate? I'll wait until you go see what the oxycodone radio jock or faux news say about them. I guess I'll be waiting for a long, long time because you won't find your talking points from them you'll have to think and figure this out all by yourself.

    June 11, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. excuse my rant

    "We've been somewhat trapped by rhetoric and words, and amnesty's a word that has kind of trapped us,"
    __________________________________

    What do you expect when your party runs on nothing but sounds bytes?

    June 11, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Leftcoastrocky

    While the bipartisan Senate bill included a long arduous pathway to citizenship, it did NOT include amnesty.

    June 11, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. rs

    Mr. Paul is correct on this point- and moreover the current bill in the Senate makes no blanket "amnesty". The GOP has painted itself into a corner on this one as "amnesty" is their current TEA Party dog whistle to call our their most irrational voters- the very one that cost Cantor his primary.

    June 11, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Donna

    Marie MD
    @donna, see my previous post, first today. Are you also talking about the "white" illegals or just the brown skinned ones?
    You can't differentiate between countries or races. Illegal means illegal.
    Care to elaborate? I'll wait until you go see what the oxycodone radio jock or faux news say about them. I guess I'll be waiting for a long, long time because you won't find your talking points from them you'll have to think and figure this out all by yourself.
    -–

    What are you smoking MarieMD??? Illegal is illegal is illegal, what does race have to do with the issue? Why does the left inject race into every discussion no matter what the topic. The flood of illegals in Texas is from central America and they know EXACTLY how to get here and EXACTLY how to cross our borders and game the system.

    Why isn't the Obama administration transporting LL of these people to the sanctuary cities that the Democrats have set up? Why can't THEY PAY FOR THEM until they can be deported back to their own country?

    This is what OBAMA and the Democrats have created and now the country is stuck paying for more of his mistakes.

    June 11, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " Please, tell us what you do differently. "

    We send people to Congress to solve our problems, not rightie nutjobs commenting on CNN.
    The fact that Donna probably doesn't have an answer doesn't excuse Congress for not working on the problem.

    If it were up to me, I would start by insisting that Mexico and Central America do more to improve their economy for all in their countries, or risk loosing favorable trade status with the USA. One of the world's richest men is Mexican. These countries have a wider income gap the we do.

    But again, we send people to Congress for this and THEY are failing us. Amnesty is not the solution, it will only encourage more to come here.

    June 11, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Donna

    Rudy NYC
    Donna
    Where is the Ticker story about the TIDAL WAVE of illegals flooding over the borders??? They are unaccompanied KIDS. Last year there were 6,500 but this year there have been 90,000 to date and it could go as high as 150,000!!
    All of this is DIRECTLY due to the Obama administration and his refusal to enforce our laws and create an environment that attracts and rewards illegal aliens.
    ---------–
    Seeing how you're way off topic again, I'll bite. What, specifically, would you do differently? This means I'm looking for an answer more insightful than, "enforce our borders." Please, tell us what you do differently. Don't forget, it also costs money and the border agents are dealing with sequestered cuts, too.
    --

    Step 1. Transport ALL of these people to the sanctuary cities that the Democrats have set up. They created this nightmare by creating magnets for these illegal country invaders. THEY CAN PAY FOR THEM until they can be deported back to their own country.

    Why should other states and cities that have tried to enforce our laws, but been stopped by Obama, have to bear the costs of their insanity? You break it, you own it. Now it is time to pay for your folly.

    June 11, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. rs

    Donna

    Where is the Ticker story about the TIDAL WAVE of illegals flooding over the borders??? They are unaccompanied KIDS. Last year there were 6,500 but htis year there have been 90,000 to date and it could go as high as 150,000!!

    All of this is DIRECTLY due to the Obama administration and his refusal to enforce our laws and create an environmene that attracts and rewards illegal aliens.
    ___________________
    The United States government can hardly be held accountable to a strong and persistent rumor in Central and South America that kids are welcome in the U.S.- especially when their parents want a better life for them. The President and this government do enforce the laws, and no one is saying "send your kids". You fail (as often) to grasp the size and length of the physical southern boundary of the U.S. Yelling "secure the border" (or in your case "he won't secure the border") may sound good- but maybe you need to think of how that looks as a reality on the ground, the manpower it will take, and how much it will cost. Your precious rich ones that you lard with tax cuts may have to cough up for this one. At $1 million a mile for just a basic fence- well, you do the math. More Border Patrol, more vehicles, more infrastructure- it all costs- and the Right believes magically that government is free.
    Less whine, more solutions.

    June 11, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    @donna, oh I don't know. When you say over the border and from central Merica sounds "brown". It seems that you are talking about south to north NOT those who come in north to south.
    Sorry, not really, but your right wing party shows the world time and again that you can't think about anyone not rich and white or southern backwoods who continue to vote for their own personal destruction.

    June 11, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Paul is wrong. The Republican Party is trapped by its own strategy of playing the Southern race card. It is not simply just words and rhetoric when so many extreme conservative members harbor strong anti-immigrant and anti-minority feelings. Republican politicians have been using race baiting code words for decades when talking about lazy people on welfare or welfare cheats and illegal immigrants.

    June 11, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    What are you smoking MarieMD??? Illegal is illegal is illegal, what does race have to do with the issue? Why does the left inject race into every discussion no matter what the topic. The flood of illegals in Texas is from central America and they know EXACTLY how to get here and EXACTLY how to cross our borders and game the system.

    Why isn't the Obama administration transporting LL of these people to the sanctuary cities that the Democrats have set up? Why can't THEY PAY FOR THEM until they can be deported back to their own country?

    This is what OBAMA and the Democrats have created and now the country is stuck paying for more of his mistakes.
    ------------------------
    Actually, Donna, the flood from the south began in earnest during the Bush-41 years, when they stopped requiring employers to include I-9 forms with the W-4 forms that were sent to the IRS for new hires. The Bush administration said that it was outside of the scope of the IRS to determine or keep track of someone's residency status. They instructed employers to keep them on file, just in case government agents showed up.

    But, now keeping the forms on file was a burden for employers. They had many former employers that they were keeping records on. So the Bush-43 administration decreed that the I-9 forms could be discarded after three years, which was over a decade ago, and THAT is when the real flood of people really began.

    June 11, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. Cayman

    I grew up in the south working with illegals and speak Spanish. At this point who cares. Their great people. Americans that do manual labor are the big losers. We have had illegals working at our ranch for 30 years and my painters, guys that do concrete work and fencing along with my housekeepers have all been illegals. Americans end up footing the bill for all this CHEAP labor but I don't think its going to end anytime soon.

    June 11, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. Silence DoGood

    @Donna
    Rudy NYC
    Donna
    Where is the Ticker story about the TIDAL WAVE of illegals flooding over the borders??? They are unaccompanied KIDS. Last year there were 6,500 but this year there have been 90,000 to date and it could go as high as 150,000!!
    All of this is DIRECTLY due to the Obama administration and his refusal to enforce our laws and create an environment that attracts and rewards illegal aliens.
    ---–
    Seeing how you're way off topic again, I'll bite. What, specifically, would you do differently? This means I'm looking for an answer more insightful than, "enforce our borders." Please, tell us what you do differently. Don't forget, it also costs money and the border agents are dealing with sequestered cuts, too.

    Step 1. Transport ALL of these people to the sanctuary cities that the Democrats have set up. They created this nightmare by creating magnets for these illegal country invaders. THEY CAN PAY FOR THEM until they can be deported back to their own country.

    Why should other states and cities that have tried to enforce our laws, but been stopped by Obama, have to bear the costs of their insanity? You break it, you own it. Now it is time to pay for your folly.
    ---------–
    Get rid of "these people" into "sanctuary cities". So that would really leave a lot of nice clean white neighborhoods. Is that the idea? I think this country has been through that already, unsuccessfully.

    A lot of white European immigrants hid diseases and history to get in. That would be illegal. This is going to be a pretty empty place if we track all those down to send away. Or does color make the difference for you?

    June 11, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Bill from GA

    Donna – " TIDAL WAVE of illegals flooding over the borders? ...All of this is DIRECTLY due to the Obama administration "

    if you bothered to look it up (Yeah, like THAT's gonna happen), you would find that as far back as 1998, Georgia republicans, including Representative Saxby Chambliss, insisted the INS quit enforcing the immigration laws, as they were hurting Georgia farmers. We also had massive illegal immigration under W-cheney

    It would take Congress and the president working together to solve the issue, and Congressional Repubs will NOT work with the Prez on anything.

    June 11, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. rs

    2_indy1600

    Just as most understand the difference between legal and illegal, most understand the difference between amnesty and pathway to citizenship. The only trap is allowing pro-amnesty dems to control the narrative, like the %47 percent used argument against Romney. Numbers are just numbers; in the case of immigration, they speak for themselves. Seal the borders instead of paying for lawyers to defend illegals as this admin is doing. Period.
    ______________________
    Except that nobody but the Right is talking amnesty-As to the 47% comment- that was Mr. Romney's- so what I am hearing is that once again the GOP is hurting itself with it's own narrative.

    June 11, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. sonny chapman

    Rand's right. But it does fit on a bumper sticker. And it does get Repubs blood a boiling. Any "Christian" Repubs ever read what Jesus said about welcoming The Stranger ? Matthew 25.35. Your fate in the next life could depend on whether you did/did not.

    June 11, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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