Exclusive: Rand Paul Unloads on Immigration Bill
On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) unloaded a series of harsh criticisms on the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News.
When asked if there is a concern that government bureaucrats may take advantage of nonspecific language in the complicated 1,200-page immigration bill, regardless of the intention of any given provision’s author, Paul said, “Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying for a few weeks now, that there are some similarities with Obamacare.”
“This Gang of Eight bill delegates a lot of authority to the administration," he explained. "So, with my amendment, ‘Trust But Verify,’ we tried to get that authority back and keep it in Congress, where Congress would vote on whether the border is secure.
“Ultimately, whether or not these people become citizens, under the Gang of Eight bill, is up to the president,” Paul continued. “I don’t care if it’s a Republican president or a Democratic president. That’s too much power for one person to have."
"So, I would have kept that power with Congress and said Congress has to vote whether the border is secure before we keep moving forward. I would make even the initial process of giving work people visas dependent on a secure border," he stated.
With help from the Gang of Eight Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid succeeded in a motion to table, or kill, Paul’s amendment that would have secured the border before legalizing America’s at least 11 million illegal immigrants. Paul’s amendment also would have left the determination of whether the border was actually secured up to Congress rather than unelected bureaucrats and cabinet officials in the executive branch.
Paul told Breitbart News he supports immigration reform but cannot bring himself to vote for this bill because to him it does not mean real immigration reform. Paul said that when Republican senators pushing the legislation admitted that they were not attempting to make legalization of illegal immigrants contingent upon real border security, he knew the efforts were not seriously to solve the problem.
“I think the turning point for me was when the Gang of Eight Republicans began to say that legalization of the undocumented workers here would not be dependent on border security,” Paul said. “That’s really the opposite of what I’ve been saying and the opposite of what conservatives have been saying. Really, immigration reform should absolutely be dependent upon border security and, really, border security first."
"When they started really admitting to that, that’s when I became disturbed," he said in reference to the reversal on making amnesty contingent upon securing the border. "Then, when my amendment which would have had border security first was voted down, and all the Gang of Eight voted against it including all the Republicans, I really knew that we didn’t have much chance of getting a bill that was going to be acceptable to conservatives.”
Paul said another “fundamental problem” with the Gang of Eight bill is that it will not actually end illegal immigration because the worker visa programs it contains are not enough to fix the problem. “In order to prevent illegal immigration you have to have a working work visa program,” Paul said. “This bill does the opposite. This bill actually sets limits for the first time on ag worker visas."
"So, it is said that three or four hundred thousand people come in to pick crops each year. This says you can only have 100,000 under the work visa program. That being true, what that means is, three or four hundred thousand will still come in to pick crops each year and they’ll be illegal, which means in another decade we’ll have 10 million more," he claimed. "I don’t think this bill actually fixes the main part of the problem we have and that’s not enough work visas."
Paul thinks the special interests behind the bill are what has driven it to this point in the legislative process, but said he thinks this bill does not have a chance of passing the House of Representatives.
“I think Democrats, in general, want voters, not workers,” Paul said. “I think their driving motivation is they would prefer voters and they don’t really care whether they’re workers or not. The unions don’t want workers but they’ll take voters also."
"So, you have those special interests really going in that direction. Many Republicans understand that we do need workers, but they’re not too excited about the voting part. So that’s kind of where you are," he explained. "But in the mix, I think the Democrats feel they have the upper hand because they’re doing so well in national elections and so well with the Hispanic vote that they think we have to take it or leave it as far as what the bill goes."
Paul said he thinks the bill will end up passing the Senate with anywhere from 65 to 70 votes but that the “House is on a different page” than the Senate’s way of thinking on immigration reform.
“I think it’s dead on arrival in the House,” Paul said of the Gang of Eight bill. “I think the House will pass something, but I think the House will be closer to what I’m talking about--border security first."
"But they’ve done just some crazy things," he admitted. "This last amendment they added onto the Senate bill has $1.5 billion for some kind of new youth work program, and it actually added an amendment in there and our interpretation of that is that the Secretary of DHS could actually veto any fence being built if she thinks the border is adequately secure already.”
Paul said if the senate slowed down instead of rushing this bill across the finish line before the Fourth of July recess, “we could probably get a better understanding of it.” Because the “1,200-pages long text of it” just came out, “Nobody really had a chance to digest it or to discover whether or not there were specific little perks or special interest lines inserted into the bill. Nobody really knows that, probably.”
“It’s always better to check things over a little slower,” Paul added. “Would it change the final outcome? No, I think. They’ve got the votes.”