With Rand Paul's Endorsement, You Can't Count Immigration Reform Out


Sen. Rand Paul
U.S. Senate

One popular takeaway from Tuesday's primary loss by (soon to be former) House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to newcomer David Brat is that immigration reform—any effort to create an eased path to legal residency and citizenship—took a big hit. That's because Brat, aside from being a market-minded economics professor, is also something of a border warrior who opposes expanded immigration. But that may not be the case with libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) apparently joining forces with an immigration reform group.

Paul has walked something of a fine line on the immigration issue, which is a sensitive one for the Republican Party. Many GOP hardliners on the issue seem absolutely committed not only to making it harder to legally enter the country, but to offending those who have already arrived. Paul hasn't taken it that far, but he has risked giving offense anyway without committing himself to a clear position. His website says:

I do not support amnesty, I support legal immigration and recognize that the country has been enriched by those who seek the freedom to make a life for themselves. However, millions of illegal immigrants are crossing our border without our knowledge and causing a clear threat to our national security. I want to work in the Senate to secure our border immediately. In addition, I support the creation of a border fence and increased border patrol capabilities.

But yesterday, the Partnership for a New American Economy announced "Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Joins Grover Norquist to Address Need for Immigration Reform." The press release from the business-oriented immigration reform group is short on details about Paul's specific take, but Paul reportedly told participants "the ball is moving forward" on immigration reform.

The Partnership's release adds, "Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Grover Norquist to talk about immigration reform and the Senator's ideas to strengthen border security, reform existing immigration laws for employers and attempt to find common ground on smaller immigration related matters."

How that shakes out in terms of legislative votes and policy proposals we'll have to wait to see. Last year, he voted against a major immigration reform proposal.

But Paul is a potential serious contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He's already chastised his party over the Voter ID issue, saying it's offending people who might otherwise consider supporting the GOP. The shift on immigration reform might well be part of his larger effort to improve his own appeal—and that of his party.

Brian Doherty yesterday explored just how libertarian American politics can actually get, even at a "libertarian moment" that creates an opening for people like Rand Paul. In this case, it could be that the moment is pushing one prominent libertarian-leaner even further toward personal freedom.

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  1. Last year, he voted against a major immigration reform proposal.

    They do a terrible job explaining why voting for comprehensive immigration reform – or any large legislative pieces – is not good for anyone but favored interests.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      And that is mostly because they are too busy calling anyone who disagrees with them racists.

      1. The conservatives bring it on themselves, or at least make it easier for their opponents to throw around accusation of racism — when they oppose all efforts at reform and turn on any Republican who dares even mention it.

        Paul has not yet made it clear what his stance is, yet the conservative base is already accusing him of supporting amnesty.

        1. So what? The point is to convince people not feel smug. What do the open borders advocates accomplish by attributing racist motives to their opponents other than make the issue more emotional and divisive and harder to solve?

        2. Libertarians are suicidal on immigration. You do realize that welcoming in 12 million new Socialist voters who know nothing of libertarianism (which is solely a White European thing limited to the USA and the Netherlands mostly).

          They always say to get rid of the welfare state instead of stopping immigration, and if we could I’d be with them on that. But welfare has NEVER been cut back in ANY Republic in history.

          Not since the Romans started handing out free bread to turn it into a dictatorship (bread and circuses for all!) and that was gradually increased with each new political leader until collapse. There is nothing new under the sun.

          So with collapse facing us, you can see why some are skeptical of inviting millions of barbarians into Rome who will then gladly take on more “free bread” will only hasten the fall of the Republic.

          Republics always collapse unless they constantly wage external wars (i.e. Rome, or the USA’s 100+ conflicts since the civil war) in order to avoid the internal wars. Gotta have an enemy to unify the electorate after all!

    2. Right, a majority of so called conservatives, judging from all the comments I’ve read on sites this morning, like ‘Rand Paul’s for amnesty, he lost my vote!’, do not understand the difference between any type of real immigration reform and a big old bloated bill that congress critters and their cronies might be cobbling together.

      I’m pro-immigration, but I seriously doubt that our current bunch of congress critters are going to put anything together that they label ‘immigration reform’, that I could support. As always, it will be just another cobbled up mix of cronyism, pork, and totally unrelated and liberty killing BS.

      1. It isn’t that people don’t understand, it’s that the talking heads are packed with scumbags talking out the side of their mouths.

        Look, here on the Reason side, you have a bunch of people who essentially favor completely open borders. They are supplemented by Democrats who want an easy path to citizenship for millions of foreign nationals brought up in heavily statist regimes.

        On the other side you have the asshats at the Center for Immigration Studies whose leaders want NO IMMIGRATION AT ALL.

        In the middle is roughly 50% of the public who don’t mind legal immigration, agree that the current system is unjust, are worried about a bunch of low wage labor depressing an already bad job market and who also fear the cultural changes that a mass hispanic influx may cause. I’m not saying that all these feelings are justified- just that it is the majority of peoples’ feelings.

        The problem is that the Open-Borders people and the CIS people will lie about the existing proposals just to get their way. All the CIS needs to do is scream AMNESTY at the top of their lungs whenever a bill comes out, and it scares the middle into rejecting it. Likewise, the Open Borders crowd screams RACIST whenever someone hesitates to give voting rights to a person who has been here illegally for 5 years.

        Neither side actually wants the moderated compromise of a well regulated system that allows easier immigration for jobs, but limits the cultural/political impact of these workers.

  2. I’m curious about the recent reports on Drudge and other sources saying there’s been a wave of children crossing the border – that military bases are being used to house them.

    Is this a real increase in border crossings by children or just increased attention? A bit of hysteria or reality?

    And, did the Obama Dream order create a perception that amnesty for minors was available?

    Get on that, Nick.

    1. Sorry, Get on that, Too Chilly.

    2. Define “children”.

      Is a 16 year old male a boy, or a man?

      1. Anyone under 18 is a child in the eyes of the state and will, therefore, be taken care of by the state.

      2. Adult child until 26. Where you been, amigo?

  3. And if there is an actual surge in minors illegally crossing the border – This will doom immigration reform of any kind.

  4. There aren’t any serious comprehensive immigration reform proposals on the table.

    The fight is between people who basically want to keep the current system, but legalize all the people here illegally, and people who want to keep the current system, and enforce it harder.

    Nobody is actually out there saying “hey, maybe there should be some sort of reasonable legal path for unskilled labor to immigrate”.

    That said, it is inhumane and immoral to deport young adults who have been here since childhood.

    1. No there is not Hazel. More importantly, no one is proposing granting people legal status but not citizenship. Most of the GOP opposition is the result of the suspicion that the entire point of reform is just to import a Democratic majority. Take citizenship off the table and that concern goes away. And isn’t legal status better than no status? Why is a path to citizenship a requirement? Many immigrants don’t even want citizenship. They just want to work here for a few years and then go home.

      1. We’re not going to legalize people and permanently deny them the right to vote John. That would violate the founding principles of the US constitution.

        1. You can legalize someone and not give them the right to vote. Worker visas or permanent residency. I don’t see that as being unconstitutional. Once you have permanent residency, you have the same path to citizenship as everyone before you. 3 years of permanent residency and you can apply for naturalization. Then you get the privilege of being taxed on foreign income. Yeah!

          1. Permanent residents can naturalize after 5 years.

            Workers on visas must leave eventually.

            We don’t have a class of people who are allowed to live here indefinitely and never be permitted to become citizens.
            And we’re not going to. Because that would violate everything the US stands for.

            1. Permanent residents can naturalize after 5 years.

              Ok, clarification, that is correct, unless you are married to a US citizen, then it’s 3 years.

              We don’t have a class of people who are allowed to live here indefinitely and never be permitted to become citizens.

              Right, we don’t. So why are we talking about this, again?

              1. Why don’t we offer people the option of living here indefinitely on a work visa that does not have a path to citizenship?

                If they want citizenship, they can go for permanent residency. As long as its their choice, what’s the problem?

                1. It is effectively impossible to get permanent residency if you’ve got less than a Bachelor’s degree and have no close US relatives.

                  Thats the entire fucking problem!

                  1. Yes, it’s very difficult.

                    So, what’s your solution?

                    1. It’s not “very difficult”. It is impossible.

                      You have to prove to the satisfaction of the Department of Labor that no US work can do the same job.

                      And they deny anyone who has less than a bachelors degree.

                      Unless you have some very rare specialized skill, oyu aren’t getting a permanent resident’s visa.

                      This is the CORE PROBLEM, which is NOT BEING ADDRESSED.

                2. I have no idea what the problem is on this thread. It appears to be fabricated on the delusion that I ‘suggested’ we create a permanent class of non-citizens, lol.

        2. No it is not. And who said it has to be permanent. Give anyone who wants one a ten year green card. Provided they don’t commit a crime, they can stay here and leave and enter the country as they like for ten years. That would cover 90% of the illegal workers in this country. Most of them are young males who just want to come here and work for a few years and go home.

          Is such a system perfect? Depends on how you look at it I guess. But it is a lot better than what we have now and would not engender near the opposition. So why not do it?

      2. Ooo, can we take away citizenship from other groups we don’t like? Politics is SO much easier when you can just ban people who don’t agree with you from voting.

        1. Who are we taking citizenship away from? You have to renounce it to get rid of it. Who is even suggesting taking citizenship away from anyone?

          1. You’re suggesting creating an underclass of legal US residents who are permanently denied the franchise.

            That’s not going to happen. It would be declared unconstitutional in a heartbeat anyway.

            1. You’re suggesting creating an underclass of legal US residents who are permanently denied the franchise.

              Please show me where I am suggesting that?

            2. I think we’re basically talking about converting the existing underclass of illegal US residents to an “underclass” of legal US residents.

              I’m not seeing how somebody who is allowed to live here indefinitely on a work visa is an “underclass”, personally.

              1. It is if it is effectively impossible for them to even become legalized.

                Which is the root cause of the problem in the first place.

                These people are here illegally because there IS NO legal path to residency for them in the first place.

                And nobody is talking about fixing THAT PROBLEM.

                1. These people are here illegally because there IS NO legal path to residency for them in the first place.

                  The only thing they can’t do is vote. The work, drive cars, and pretty much do everything else you and I do, every day. What is it you want?

                  I’m fine if you just want to make everyone a citizen right this minute. Can I get back all the fees that I paid and time that I spent getting my wife here legally?

                  Also, it’s up to Hazel to find solutions to any issues that arise from a totally open immigration system. I’m all ears. And please fix it for every other country also, because some of us might have to relocate to Central American and try to fix it.

  5. no one is proposing granting people legal status but not citizenship.

    This is easy.

    GOP are pro business(mostly of the big crony sort) and good cheap labor is hard to come by. So to me, the GOP would support an increase in immigration but wouldn’t care about naturalization. This makes sense from a business perspective, because unlike lazy Americans, the latinos who cross the border looking for work, will work and are hard workers. It is impossible to fill these unskilled positions with Americans, simply because they can get more money in government assistance, and if you can hire them, they won’t work as hard.

    Dems only want more votes, and the way they think, being the biggest racist in the history of the world, is that every brown person who walks across a border is automagically stupid enough to vote for them. And the only way they get that is citizenship for all.

    1. Yes, let’s create a large underclass of unskilled laborers, who can work but not vote.

      What could possibly be wrong with that?

      1. Yes, let’s create a large underclass of unskilled laborers, who can work but not vote.

        We already have that. Stop with the delusion that I suggested that we ‘create’ that. I did no such thing. Are you cuing off off Stormy’s stupid, or what?

        Everyone who comes here legally has a path to citizenship. I didn’t create the class of people who are here illegally, personally don’t mind that they are here, and I am not suggesting that they can never have a path to citizenship. Hello!?

        1. Are you in favor of changing the system to create a legal path to citizenship for unskilled laborers with no US relatives? No? Then you are in favor of having a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

          1. Are you in favor of changing the system to create a legal path to citizenship for unskilled laborers with no US relatives?

            I’m open to it, whether I’m in favor depends on the solution.

  6. Paul hasn’t taken it that far, but he has risked giving offense anyway without committing himself to a clear position.

    To the extent that immigration took Cantor down, I think this was his problem: he kept slopping around, saying one thing for the folks back home (“militarized border!”) and another with his palsies in DC (“amnesty!”).

    This is a major mis-step by Paul if he has any plans to run for President. Allying himself with the Chamber of Commerce wing of the party, when it is completely at odds with the “tea party” wing of the party that Rand Paul relies on, is just political suicide. Its like he looked at what happened to Cantor and said “I want me some of that!”

    If he just has to grab the third rail of the Republican Party, he should at least do something different. A “third way”, if you will. I think legal status but no path to citizenship is the winning move: it distances him from the CoCsucker wing of the party, mitigates the fears of the tea party wing of the party AND blows up the Dems “swamp the electorate” plan, and pins the immigration activists down on something they don’t want but can’t oppose.

    1. Yes. Paul’s biggest competitor for votes right now is Cruz. If Paul goes pro amnesty, Cruz is going to benefit greatly.

      1. Do you have any links to show where Paul ever said ‘I’m pro amnesty’?

        1. I don’t think he has. That is why I said “If”.

          1. He’s never going to say that, John, because he isn’t pro amnesty. I would be surprised if he is not advocating the same type of thing you and I are, which is some type of migrant work program which can conditionally be turned into a permanent residency.

            1. That is hard to do thanks in part to people like Gillespie poisoning the well calling anyone who objects to open borders racists. Sadly this issue has damn near become part of the culture war and rational discourse about it increasingly impossible.

              1. Hazel and Nick can work out the details.

            2. The problem is that if Paul doesn’t make a steadfast proposal, he gets defined by opponents. On the left, they will define him as a Xenophobe racist, and on the Right, they will define him as Pro Amnesty.

              The Center for Immigration Studies wants ZERO immigration, and they know that a Foreign Worker Program is popular enough to pass. So they do EVERYTHING in their power to pass this off as amnesty. And screaming Amnesty is a lot easier than a nuanced explanation of the differences between naturalization, permanent residency, and immigration in general.

              1. To be more clear:

                Paul has made a big mistake by indicating that he wants to work with parties that most of the GOP base sees as favoring Amnesty and mass Naturalization. He has defined his position by association rather than setting out a path that is more difficult to caricature.

  7. Well, as of just a few minutes ago, new GOP “king maker” rave of the month Laura Ingraham weighed in on Paul’s inability to clearly define himself on immigration (which of course means to the far right GOP that he is pro-amnesty).

    “His response to the Cantor loss is ‘we have to do immigration reform’ … well there goes Rand Paul’s chances for the presidency,” Ingraham said.

    So sayeth the newest elephant in the room.

    1. Yup, any mention of “reform” sends the Tea Party idiots into a tizzy — without even knowing what that reform entails.

      1. Calling it “reform” is so damned disingenous. It’s like a bunch of shoplifters pilfering everything from a store, then picketing the place wanting “shoplifting law reform”.

        No one asked these millions to come here illegally. They did it themselves. They can either go home or lurk around in the shadows, but I’ll be damned if I ever vote for anyone who supports legalizing a bunch of overt criminals.

  8. A lot of people seem to be under the delusion that becoming a permanent resident is something that anyone can get if they just apply for it an wait long enough.

    It is NOT.

    There are only two ways to become a permanent resident.
    1. Have an immediate US relative sponsor you.
    2. Have an employer sponsor you. The employer then has to prove that there are no Americans who can do the same job. The Department of labor gets to decide. This makes it effectively impossible to get an employer sponsorship if you don’t have a college degree.

    1. You forgot:

      3. Be rich.

      1. What’s the name of the ‘I’m rich’ visa? How does one apply for that, I know several people from South America who wants one of those.

    2. Those are the problems. But giving amnesty to illegals does nothing to solve them. Further, providing a path to citizenship doesn’t solve them either.

      The solution to the actual problem is to have easy to get time limited guest worker cards. Let people come here and work for a set time so it is not tied to employment. That way their employers can’t fuck them and it is not more desirable to hire an immigrant because you can threaten them with deportation. And if you don’t allow welfare and don’t tie it to employment, you get rid of the low skilled worker issue as well. People could get a card, come here and if they can’t find a job, go home. Just make everyone show an open ticket back home as a condition of the card.

    3. Here’s a solution:

      Create a guest worker program.

      Anyone can then get a visa to come here and look for work. After they are here for so long, say 5 years, they can start the immigration process, if they show proof of income. NO WELFARE.

      Are you ok with this?

      1. ^Exactly^ come on in, we’re open for business Ellis island style that’s where my grandparents came through and they did just fine. Sign in, we truly wish you the best of luck, NO WELFARE. Then we should start reducing the current welfare rolls by 10% a year. If those people can’t find work they should be able to visit the White House for a personal explanation of why the current suckass economic policies don’t help the little guy.

  9. “Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Joins Grover Norquist to Address Need for Immigration Reform.”

    How exactly does this assist in any way a potential 2016 Republican Presidential run by Senator Rand?

    Might his mean that the senator (or his wife) has decided that he will not run?

  10. The ‘Immigration Reform’ the vast majority of Americans are interested in starts with Border Security, and stopping ILLEGAL immigration.
    Once that is attained (it doesn’t have to be perfect – but it has to be effective) the discussion can begin on how best to reform our immigration laws to the betterment of all Americans.

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