On Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke at the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce about immigration. Paul expressed tremendous sympathy for illegal immigrants, but also called for stronger border security first and foremost. He also laid forth a plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
He began by recounting his early experiences with Latinos, whom he said he “lived, worked, played [with], and grew up alongside.” He added, “At a young age, I came to understand that it makes a difference whether you are a documented immigrant or an undocumented immigrant, that the existence was not easy for the undocumented but that opportunity in America somehow trumped even the poor living conditions and low pay.” And unlike many conservatives who paint Latino illegal immigrants as people who seek government benefits, Paul said, “Growing up in Texas I never met a Latino who wasn’t working …. I’ve never met a new immigrant looking for a free lunch.”
Politically, Paul laid out a vision for the Republican Party on Latino voters:
Republicans need to become parents of a new future with Latino voters or we will need to resign ourselves to permanent minority status. The Republican Party has insisted for years that we stand for freedom and family values. I am most proud of my party when it stands for both. The vast majority of Latino voters agree with us on these issues but Republicans have pushed them away with harsh rhetoric over immigration.
Practically, Paul put forward several steps that would need to be fulfilled to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. These would be separate steps.
First, he said American requires more border security. He called securing American borders “absolutely vital.” To achieve that border security, he pushed a system he termed “Trust but Verify.” Border security, he said, “must be certified by Border Patrol and an Investigator General and then voted on by Congress to ensure it has been accomplished.”
Second, he said Americans should embrace more legal immigration.
Third, he suggested some sort of legal status for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the Untied States. He suggested work visas as a temporary solution. And, he said, there would be no amnesty:
Imagine 12 million people who are already here coming out of the shadows to become new taxpayers.12 million more people assimilating into society. 12 million more people being productive contributors. Conservatives, myself included, are wary of amnesty. My plan will not grant amnesty or move anyone to the front of the line. But what we have now is de facto amnesty.
Paul opposed national ID and E-Verify, which he said would force “businesses to become policemen … forc[ing] business owners to become immigration inspectors – making them do the job the federal government has failed to do.”
Paul’s plan is significantly more focused on border security than the so-called Gang of Eight plan led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), an obvious contender for the 2016 nomination. It is also a step in the right direction.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).