Four Things We Know About Rand Paul’s Immigration Policy Views

Written by on April 9, 2015 in Elections with 6 Comments

16882273758_8966d04ad5_kSenator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has entered the 2016 presidential race with the campaign slogan “defeat the Washington machine.” Yet his views and past legislative actions on immigration show that he is more likely to maintain the status quo of leaving reform in limbo rather than push forward meaningful reforms that harness the skills and talents immigrants bring to the U.S. Despite Sen. Paul’s public statements that the GOP needs to “welcome” immigrants, Sen. Paul’s actions during his first-term in congress highlight how he would rather put his energy behind enforcement measures than backing realistic, sensible policies to improve the well-being of all immigrants.

Here are four things we know about Sen. Paul’s views on immigration:

1. Sen. Paul wants to end President Obama’s Immigration Action.

In December 2013, the House of Representatives approved a bill filed by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) that would block President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Sen. Paul introduced companion legislation in the Senate because he believes that “our Constitution is being violated by this executive order and other actions by the Obama Administration to govern by executive fiat.” More than a hundred legal scholars disagree with Sen. Paul, noting that deferring deportation for up to 4 million immigrants is well within the President’s executive authority.

Sen. Paul expressed his concerns with the President’s immigration action and also compared them to the Japanese internment camps during World War II at a Kentucky Association of Counties conference:

“Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision. The president issued an executive order. He said to Japanese people, ‘We’re going to put you in a camp. We’re going to take away all your rights and liberties and we’re going to intern you in a camp.’ We shouldn’t allow that much power to gravitate to one individual.”

2. Sen. Paul voted against the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Sen. Paul voted against the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill S. 744 passed by the Senate because it did not include the completion of a border fence in 5 years or include a national identification card for U.S. citizen. He tried to pass his “Trust but Verify ” amendment with S. 744, which would include implementing these enforcement measures. This amendment was rejected by the Senate.

3. Sen. Paul wants costly enforcement-first measures implemented before fixing our immigration system.

On his campaign website, Sen. Paul says in a video that “millions of illegal immigrants are crossing our border without our knowledge and causing a clear threat to our national security” and continues to advocate for a border fence stretching the 1,969 mile U.S.-Mexico border before action on comprehensive immigration reform can move forward. Sen. Paul’s stance is more of the same enforcement-first policies that have been held over the past three decades, which have cost taxpayers $186.8 billion.

Sen. Paul’s aggressive plan to put border-enforcement first is not new. When he ran for the Senate in 2010, his campaign website stated:

“My plans include an underground electric fence, with helicopter stations to respond quickly to breaches of the border. Instead of closing military bases at home and renting space in Europe, I am open to the construction of bases to protect our border.”

4. Sen. Paul introduced legislation to end birthright citizenship.

In June 2011, Sen. Paul introduced a bill with Senator David Vitter (R-LA) that would amend the Constitution to end birthright citizenship because “citizenship is a privilege, and only those who respect our immigration laws should be allowed to enjoy its benefits.” This piece of legislation is particularly troublesome because, as a report by the American Immigration Council notes, ending birthright citizenship would create a new permanent underclass and enforces the myth that undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. just to give birth. While the bill was never brought to a vote, the introduction of this bill shows that Sen. Paul is more interested in reinforcing immigration myths that distract us from finding solutions to the problems facing our outdated immigration system.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

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  • AngKong George


  • keniamariana

    I like it

  • Sarah Morrigan

    For someone who purports to be the libertarian voice of the Republican Party, Rand Paul’s stance on immigration is purely hypocritical and only panders to the xenophobic party base.

    In particular he demonstrates his lack of consistency and his hypocrisy when he opposes NSA and other government surveillance programs, yet he calls for so-called enforcement-first approach to immigration. Whether Rand Paul likes it or not, the very fact that there are millions of undocumented immigrants in America speaks to the fact that we live in an open and free country, and that people from all over the world come to America looking for opportunities and freedom, often risking even their own lives. It is the biggest compliment to America’s legacy of liberty.

    It takes a massive, expensive, and all-pervasive police state to eradicate undocumented immigration. It takes everything that libertarian and small-government Republicans will hate in order to “enforce the law.” Look no further than countries such as Singapore, where private property owners are required to verify immigration status of prospective tenants and receive government permission before renting to anyone. Or Japan, where all “foreign-looking” people can be detained by the police any time for any or no reason unless they produce their “residency card” and passport. “Papers please” and massive national surveillance database are what it takes to even put a dent on undocumented immigrants.

    Until 2001, libertarians used to call for open borders and ending of immigration regulations, in return that no immigrants should be able to avail themselves to welfare benefits. Somehow the post-9/11 rise of xenophobic hysteria forced these small-government Republicans and Libertarians to change their tones.

    If the Republicans want any prospect of future, they need to grow out of their xenophobic platform. They must start selling the revival of American Dream as the core of their message. Until the early 1990s, the Democrats were the anti-immigrant party, largely backed by the Big Labor that didn’t want influx of foreigners. I have not forgotten the INS under the Clinton Administration, or how it was a lot easier to obtain visas during the George H.W. Bush Administration, only became much tougher once Clinton was elected. But now, immigrant rights movement have been thoroughly hijacked and co-opted by the far left, even though for many immigrants their values align more closely to the American conservatives. If Rand Paul fails to understand this, he is only going to win because of latent white supremacist sentiments among rural low-information voters, but in the long run, the GOP will continue to become irrelevant to the evolving realities of the United States.

    • Mark-John

      You are very confused. Every Nation has a right to its own Sovereignty. “Xenophobia,” the rubbish Codeword of Leftists such as yourself, has nothing to do with it. Every Nation has the RIGHT to decide who comes into that Nation. “Xenophobia,” that ridiculous Leftist Codeword, again, has nothing to do with it. Nor, conversely do any of those Rights have anything to do with “Xenophobia,” your favourite Leftist Codeword. A Nation ALSO has the Right to decide what kind of Society they wish to create…NOT Leftists who have no idea what it means to be an American.

      While Rand Paul’s Immigration and Foreign Policy positions make him an untenable Candidate, a Nations RIGHT to decide who comes to their Country is the RIGHT of every Nation.

    • Me112233

      “Enforcement first” simply means that the borders be CLOSED to illegal crossings. The USA needs to know who is coming into our nation. When you cross legally, including if you are an American citizen returning from a visit to another country, your ID is checked to see if you really belong here. At legal ports of entry, those who are not legally entitled to enter are refused entry (thus, those who have no legal right to be here, come into the country illegally, typically along a very porous Mexican border). We also have a huge problem with people who enter legally on a visa, but overstay and thus become illegal, as was the case with most of the 9-11 hijackers. Absent enforcement, no other manner of reform even makes sense. Citizens have a right to be here. Non-citizens do not have a right to be here, and come here by permission which can be revoked at any time, or they come here illegally, in which case they should be kicked out of the nation immediately like the criminals that they are. Almost everyone would like to see some changes to the system. But unless the president and his employees (aka, the federal government) will demonstrate that they actually will enforce whatever the law ends up being, there’s no point in changing the law — the American people are fed up.

  • Capitan Frith II

    Immigrants and the government plus the American People have long standing rights and responsibilities. Firstly, the government has the obligation of establishing the annual quotas based upon our unemployment condition and world-wide allocation of annual available visas. The immigrants have the obligation to comply with ALL laws of our land. The People have the obligation to determine whether the additional number of immigrants contributes to the economy or results in the federal or state government borrowing funds or raising taxes to provide immigrants benefits. The people must steer the government away from negative impacts and provide for humanitarian immigration (asylees & refugees & victims of violence). If financial sponsorship results in an immigrant taking from the coffer then the contractual obligation must be collected from the sponsor or co-sponsor. Enforcement of those contracts must have a high priority.