Paul on the fence over immigration bill
June 12th, 2013
11:57 AM ET
7 years ago

Paul on the fence over immigration bill

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday he's not ready to vote on the immigration reform package as it now stands in the Senate, adding the measure needs tougher provisions on border security in order to have a chance in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

On a personal note, the senator also said he's come to realize there's an important distinction between the terms "illegal" and "undocumented" when referring to immigrants.

The Republican senator from Kentucky, who's considering a potential 2016 presidential bid, argued the House and Senate are "still pretty far apart" on the issue but that he could help bring the two chambers together. He plans to offer amendments that will make the package more appealing to those on the other side of Capitol Hill.

"If you want this to happen, you've got to bridge the Senate and the House," he said Wednesday at a Washington forum organized by Hispanic Christian leaders. "I'm sort of in between where the Senate and House is, but not yet ready to vote for the Senate bill unless they're willing to listen to people who say let's make the border secure."

The Senate bill, crafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators, creates a 13-year path to citizenship for most of America's 11 million undocumented immigrants. While it includes language for tighter border security, some conservatives say enforcement must be a prerequisite before any of the other bill's provisions can set in. Other House Republicans take issue with the bill's pathway to citizenship.

Read more: 5 things to know about immigration reform

On Tuesday the Senate voted to begin debate on the bill. While Paul voted to move forward with the process, 15 Republicans wanted to stall the measure.

Paul's set of amendments, which he wants to file next week, would grant work visas for undocumented immigrants already in the country. A bipartisan group would determine how many visas are issued.

His legislation would also build 100 miles of fence every year until Congress decides the border is secure.

Read more: Split House GOP threatens immigration reform, Boehner's future

Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the Republican members on the "Gang of Eight," agrees that the bill needs tougher measures for border security and has threatened to remove support from his own bill if the Senate doesn't approve those changes.

Rubio and Paul were both part of a group of senators that met with House members last week on Capitol Hill to discuss the issue.

An amendment filed Tuesday night by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, however, could threaten to sink the bill. His proposal calls for the government to recognize same-sex marriages between a U.S. citizen and an undocumented immigrant. The amendment, if it's brought to the Senate floor, could see big pushback from Republicans.

"I haven't really thought through it," Paul told reporters Wednesday when asked about the amendment. "I think sometimes these cultural issues divide us more than bring us together so I think there's some danger that if we get involved in issues that really divide us, it doesn't help to pass the bill."

Read more: Ayotte backs ‘Gang of 8’ immigration plan

Talking about his own personal stance on the issue, Paul said he has "come to really feel" that there is a distinction between the terms "undocumented" and "illegal" immigrant, the latter of which has become a somewhat loaded term in the immigration battle.

"Many of them came to work and have regular visas and then wanted a better-paying job. Is that a crime to want a better paying job? So I think the words are important," he said. "A lot of the problem when people became undocumented was from the government, not from the fault of the people."

The conference Wednesday was organized by the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Filed under: Immigration • Rand Paul
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    On the fence? This is the same Sen. Paul who said he would have not supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.
    PAUL: You had to ask me the "but." I don't like the idea of telling private business owners — I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant — but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.
    INTERVIEWER: But under your philosophy, it would be okay for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworth’s?
    PAUL: I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent, um, but, the hard part — and this is the hard part about believing in freedom — is, if you believe in the First Amendment, for example — you have to, for example, most good defenders of the First Amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things and uh, we're here at the bastion of newspaperdom, I'm sure you believe in the First Amendment so you understand that people can say bad things.It’s the same way with other behaviors. In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people, who have abhorrent behavior, but if we're civilized people, we publicly criticize that, and don't belong to those groups, or don't associate with those people.

    June 12, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. just sayin

    democrats don't want this to pass period. they want to continue to be able to use and abuse hispanics by playing with this as long as possible. proof of that is leahy sitting there with his big poison pill to the bill. if it looks like it will pass, they will tack that on to make sure it fails. then they will blame everybody else, like they always do.

    June 12, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. John

    If the House doesn't/act pass a bill after Senate does, it will cost the GOP dearly with Latinos......they will come out in big numbers and Demos will get 75%, up from 71%, enough to guarantee the next election.....

    June 12, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Tony

    It is not only rant paul on the on the fence with regards to immigration it is the entire Republican party.

    June 12, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. ST

    I was irritated by his father so often BUT his son is million times worse. Little Rand Paul, you want to run for President. You understand what made Mitt Romney lost the election. You have heard what your Party has to do to include Latinos to their side, and still you are against Immigration Reform? Is there any need of even mentioning 2016? How is your Party or you are going to win without Latinos? I didn't expect you to be as dumb as you show it each day.

    June 12, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. truth hurts but reality bites

    Why only 100 miles of fence per year? Are we short of people? Short of fence companies?? Materials??? It can't be money as the Fed is simply printing money to pay for everything, which is why the market is up so much (watch that bubble burst again people). Have them print an extra $10-20 billion or whatever it takes.

    This needs to be a national priority. It is already 30 years over due and the cause of our illegal immigrant problem as well as our drug problem, not to mention a major security breach.

    June 12, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Rubio and Paul were both part of a group of senators that met with House members last week on Capitol Hill to discuss the issue.
    And now they both are leaders of a group of senators that are opposed to the bill, not without adding some poison pill amendments to the bill. Amendments that could have been, and should have been, added when it was still in committee.

    How can you trust Republicans when they so blatantly renege on any agreement? And then blame the other side for the deal falling apart?

    June 12, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Data Driven

    100 miles of fence per year? What a lunatic set of priorities. Also, interesting to read that Leahy's provision would kill the bill. I guess gay immigrants on this program are "separate but equal" to other gay Americans. Actually, this is the reason I'm against the bill. Not a big fan of enshrining bigotry into Federal law.

    June 12, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    Wow ! "I've come to realize..." I thought he was infallible.

    June 12, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Without securing the border first this bill isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

    June 12, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    A 2000 mile long fence would cost anywhere between $500 billion and $5 trillion dollars. It's more than a chain link fence with a few wireless cameras from Home Depot, you know. How much per mile would it cost? Logistics, that which conservatives always seem to ignore.

    You would need: guard stations; new roads; complete utilities such as water, sewer, and power; living quarters to house and feed guards, etc. Then there's the question of staffing: how many guards per turret, how many should be stationed at a single guard base that covers how many towers; support staff to run the new bases.

    What about information technology infrastructure? All of the cameras would need to connect to something for monitoring, recording, and playback. What about audio? What good would the cameras be without audio? I could go on and on, but due to space limitations, I'll break it off here.

    June 12, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "While it includes language for tighter border security, some conservatives say enforcement must be a prerequisite before any of the other bill's provisions can set in."

    Let's parse that, shall we?

    First part: CNN doesn't want to tell you what's actually already in the bill regarding border security, because you might just take it upon yourself to believe that its extensive provisions are sufficient. If you did that, then there wouldn't be a "controversy"....rather, you might just decide that the GOP/Teatrolls who claim that the bill does nothing to secure the border are just spewing hot air in order to delay and obstruct the bill.

    Second part: GOPers/Teatrolls want "border security" to be a "prerequisite" because then they can set up unattainable standards for defining "border security" that will assure the "prerequisite" is never met....especially if they place as much enforcement and reporting authority and discretion in the hands of southern states, which can then deliberately make sure that the "prerequisites" are never met, or at least never be reported as met, so that a pathway to citizenship is never triggered.

    June 12, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Please proceed, GOPers/Teatrolls. Demographic Armageddon is going to be quite the party for you.

    June 12, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. anonymous

    Democrats can't be trusted with enforcing any immigration laws, current or future. Why is the Republican Party negotiating with known criminals and violators of their oath of office? Obama needs to immediately cancel his Executive Order that bars ICE from enforcing our current immigration laws. And why has that been challenged in court anyways? Totallyy illegal and a violation of our Constitution and Obama's Oath of Office.

    June 12, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Rand Paul needs rehab !

    The Freshman senator has done Nothing but posture himself .

    Palin with out a skirt !

    June 12, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. lolo

    Wake up people. 2014 is getting closer and now the GOP is singing a different tune to get your votes. Don't buy into it. A Leopard does not change it's spots. Thsi is only to get votes. Now all of a sudden this moron realizes there is a difference. Give me a break. Just another Palin in a mans' body with blond curly locks.

    June 12, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Peoples State of Illinois

    "Anytime a party and its vile supporters promote nothing but, hate, lies, racism, division to win favor with the electorate, you can best believe they've got nothing else.."
    Perfect description of the democratic party. Somebody must have opened a dictionary.

    June 12, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. just sayin

    Rudy NYC - A 2000 mile long fence would cost anywhere between $500 billion and $5 trillion dollars

    pssst.... there is already stuff there so you don't need 2000 miles of it built. the holes need to be plugged. and seriously??? $5 trillion dollars??? are you crazy? they will not be putting up a super highway along the border with a 14k solid gold fence.

    gotta love how the leftists always want to throw out some nutty cost for things they don't want, but always low ball the costs of their social welfare programs.

    June 12, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC


    Democrats can't be trusted with enforcing any immigration laws, current or future. Why is the Republican Party negotiating with known criminals and violators of their oath of office?
    Good question. Maybe House Republicans can tell us when they meet with former SC Gov. Sanford. or Senate Republicans can when they meet with cover-up specialist Tom Coburn.

    June 12, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |