June 11th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
7 years 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.

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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. Bill from GA

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

    If you give to someone what they came to take illegally, it is amnesty. And, there are plenty enough trying to get into our country LEGALLY; why give an advantage to those who ignore our laws?

    June 11, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. smith1

    howdy dooty has spoken. The repo party will end up being hurt by this in the long run. by 2020 states like Texas may be blue and people will not forget these wackos and the way they have approached immigration, womans rights or the gay marriage issue. The numbers alone show a shift in the population and republicans refuse to acknowledge it.

    June 11, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Donna

    Rudy NYC
    Actually, Donna, the flood from the south began in earnest during the Bush-41 years,
    --

    No, actually Rudy, you don't know what you are talking about and need to get up to speed before commenting on it. The problem is now new and very different, tens of thousands of UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN, some as young as 5 and 6!

    2013 6,500
    2014 90,000 and counting

    Welcome to the Obama-Democrat immigration/country invasion nightmare. When can we ship 20,000 of them to NYC for you to pay for and care for?

    June 11, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. just me

    Donna, these sanctuary cities are a right wing myth. I live in Houston, which is supposedly one. The police tend not to fixate on papers cuz doing so tends to lead to unreported crimes and an astonishing lack of witnesses. It's a crime fighting policy, not an immigration policy.

    June 11, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Lolo

    @ Donna, If we send them to the Democratic states like you said, what would you do about babysitters, housekeepers and gardners for you lazy no good GOP/TP idiots. Someone made a commet abut Republican women being better looking than Democrat women. I guess they do because they don't work outside of the house and all they do is gossip and go to the spas, get plastic surgery and have babies and loving when ever the GOP men tell them to. This is your life and I am not mad at you but quit being the pot calling the kettle black. This is the reason you people as Ann likes to say don't make any sense. All you republicans want is cheap labor, better yet free labor. Now that people are waking up they are not taking it anymore.If you are poor I apologize, but I doubt it, because of your comments. Poor people need rights and love too. If you call yourself a Christian you really need to go back and reread your bible, because you are a lost sheep.

    June 11, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. just me

    Donna, forgot to mention: there are also more border patrol agents in Texas now than there has ever been before, with all kinds of fancy new hardware. And yes, that happened under Obama's watch.

    June 11, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    @just me
    Donna, these sanctuary cities are a right wing myth. I live in Houston, which is supposedly one. The police tend not to fixate on papers cuz doing so tends to lead to unreported crimes and an astonishing lack of witnesses. It's a crime fighting policy, not an immigration policy.
    -----------–
    After blowing through any facts, myths are all the Radical Right has now.
    Benghazi, Bergdahl, Brain injury........ BrainGhazDahl. The new tin foil hat cry.

    June 11, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    ""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,"

    Yeah right. Can you even imagine Randroid and the rest of the GOP/Teartolls' tantrum if Bergdahl had been an illegal instead of an alleged deserter?

    June 11, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. rs

    just me

    Donna, forgot to mention: there are also more border patrol agents in Texas now than there has ever been before, with all kinds of fancy new hardware. And yes, that happened under Obama's watch.
    _________________________
    You are completely correct, of course. Unfortunately we are having a discussion with a party and a political philosophy which has elected to simply avoid facts or make them up as needed. I have never seen a group still categorized as being sane that is so delusional on so many fronts.

    June 11, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. Denise

    Since when are GOP women better looking than liberal ones? Take a look at some of the broads living in lowest income per capita red states, tea party convention sites. They're all missing teeth and their height and hip size are the same as in 5 feet long and 5 feet wide.

    June 11, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    The basic fact, is that we have 30 million (est.) illegals in this country, and they are basically changing the balance of power in America, where one party is turning corruption into government control. The more we allow that number to increase, the bigger that problem is going to get.

    We should be allowing NO amnesty, of any kind, no matter what that word means to any individual. To do so, is anti conservative, and pro Democrat. Plain and simple. It is decency and proper behavior, for conservatives, losing to corruption and graft, on the part of the Democrats.

    That is simply stupid, and NO conservative politician should be advocating for that, in any way. It is suicide for America.

    June 11, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

    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.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    You hired an illegal to clean your house? That makes YOU part of the problem. IMO, if people like you stopped hiring illegals, the illegal problem would go away. In fact, IMO, people who hire illegals should be incarcerated, heavily fined and have all of their assets seized. If the Fed were to make an example of a few scofflaws like you, the problem would cease to be a problem in no time at all.

    June 11, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    No, actually Rudy, you don't know what you are talking about and need to get up to speed before commenting on it. The problem is now new and very different, tens of thousands of UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN, some as young as 5 and 6!

    2013 6,500
    2014 90,000 and counting

    Welcome to the Obama-Democrat immigration/country invasion nightmare. When can we ship 20,000 of them to NYC for you to pay for and care for?
    --------------------–
    Not only do you not understand the newest problem, your numbers are way off. The newest wave are young kids, who keep hearing all of this talk [mostly from the right] about how they can come to the United States and get a free ride.

    June 11, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Thomas

    @liberal disease
    when you have no accomplishments to run on, oh forget it we have a President who did it, so why are her numbers down again ? huh how about she is completely unlikable unless you are soused on Clinton kool aid.

    =====

    You remind me of somebody , were you by chance at the Nuremberg War Crime Trials ?

    " liberal disease "

    June 11, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Donna

    Welcome to the Obama-Democrat created USA invasion.... that WE PAY FOR!

    And now, reform prospects have been dimmed further by the administration's response to a building wave of illegal immigrants attempting to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. "Since October, more than 47,000 children traveling without parents have been caught trying to cross the southwest border," the New York Times reported recently, "a 92 percent increase over the same period last year."

    How did the administration react? On Friday, it announced the formation of something called "Justice AmeriCorps" to provide taxpayer-funded lawyers to help those young illegal immigrants fight deportation. "We're taking a historic step to strengthen our justice system and protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

    There's little doubt Obama has encouraged a surge of new illegal immigrants to try to enter the U.S. The entire thrust of administration policy has been to end or curtail deportations of young people. Word gets out in Mexico and Central America. More come. And when they come illegally, the president's reaction is to give them a lawyer. So even more will come in the future.

    June 11, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    He's right. Guns Over People teatard knee jerks always fixate on words like amnesty and lie.

    June 11, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. Bill from GA

    The only way we will really slow down illegal immigration is to SERIOUSLY go after those who hire illegal workers.

    The economy is improving. Especially in the construction industry, many of those jobs coming back will be taken by illegal workers, as our enforcement on hiring is too lax. Dems want to encourage more by legalizing those already here. Repubs want to limit the power of government to enforce those laws. The loser is America's middle class.

    And we have the likes of Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton working against America's Middle Class for the sake of Big Business and narrow-minded voters:

    Paul – We'll need tighter border security (Though half or more come here legally and stay)
    Hillary – We don't need to throw out of work the 11 million here. (And the 11 million who follow once the current 11 million are legalized??)

    Republicans are afraid to stand up to business wanting cheap labor and Dems are afraid to offend future voters. Does no one represent America's Middle Class?

    June 11, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. just asking

    Rudy NYC
    The newest wave are young kids, who keep hearing all of this talk [mostly from the right] about how they can come to the United States and get a free ride.
    --–

    are you claiming they don't get a free ride??? do you think they are coming here with their pockets full of $100 bills?!

    June 11, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    He's just another idiot, hell bent on entertaining himself and like minded people that love chaos. They love to see things stirred up and boiling, but refuse to take part in the festivities if they start hitting a little too close to home. In other words he's an agitator and instigator, nothing more. Some day it's be wonderful to see people like this grow up, before they grow old.

    June 11, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. Bill from GA

    Denise – " Take a look at some of the broads living in lowest income per capita red states, ..."

    What a stupid comment! I have been in more than 40 states, Canada, Mexico, and Western Europe. i can personally say that women from the South can hold their own against any.

    Further, I have seen beautiful women in each of these places, and also those not so attractive. I have also met some really nice people, in Northern and Southern, Mid-West and Western, small town and cities. And some pretty lousy ones too.

    June 11, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. Bill from GA

    Rick McDaniel – " The basic fact, is that we have 30 million (est.) illegals in this country, and they are basically changing the balance of power in America, where one party is turning corruption into government control. "

    You are maybe half right, Rick. What you overlook is that republican politicians do not want to solve the problem either. They want to make a lot of noise and half-hearted gestures to appeal to righties so you keep voting them back in office. They do NOT want to slow the flow of cheap labor to big biz. Or to enforce laws against hiring illegals, which would REALLY stop the flow.

    But as long as you think the problem is only Dems, and keep voting for and praising repubs, nothing will change.

    June 11, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. Lizzie

    Malory.... Heard the news, the 5 Talibans released have gone missing

    June 11, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " they can come to the United States and get a free ride. "

    Like that FREE bus ride to Arizona? Boy, did Gov Brewer hate THAT!!

    June 11, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Libby Raul Czar-Lazlows

    The Demo-Idiots have been waving the "we'll give you Amnesty!" Flag that has resulted in a deluge of criminal immigrants crossing the border. They have demonstrated that Greg are willing to cripple the country by cornering the "growing" Hispanic voting block.
    Why is the Hispanic growing block growing? Because Democrats refuse to enforce the law!

    Save the US, deport NOW!

    June 11, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Tampa Tim

    tom l
    Tampa,
    Do you know the difference between the debt and the deficit? A deficit still means we are spending more than we are taking in, fyi. Your posts never seem to recognize that fact.
    ---
    At the risk of upstting you because you are so super sensitive, a quality I admire in republicans, Bush's last budget had over a $1.4 trillion deficit. Obama has managed to get it to almost $550 billion. Since you post all day, you could look it up instead of lying. Get a real job!

    June 11, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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