Continuing to fight for an anti-immigrant GOP vote that can never truly take him to heart, while continuing what is likely a sincere belief that American liberty has zero to do with letting foreigners into the country to do business or have relationships with Americans, Rand Paul (R-Ky.) today slammed fellow senator and fellow GOP presidential aspirant Marco Rubio of Florida for being "open borders."
Paul told Breitbart:
"I think this is Rubio's greatest weakness," Paul said. "He's for open borders."
Paul explained that on immigration, "Rubio is way out of step with what the American people want."….
Paul explained that Rubio's support for open borders undermines Rubio's attempt to portray himself as a national defense hawk.
"He is weak on national security because he won't secure our border," Paul said.
"I don't think you can be for strong national defense if you're not willing to defend border," Paul explained.
I wrote last month analyzing the differences between Paul and Rubio on immigration. A lot of Paul's complaints against Rubio come from continuing to link him to his role in the 2013 failed comprehensive immigration reform bill. As I wrote then:
Rubio himself has backed away from that plan, saying that alas any attempt to normalize the already-here illegal must take a backseat to border security. That was pretty much Paul's position during that 2013 debate: encircle the nation in impregnable wall first, think about common sense ways to normalize the currently illegal later.
I think Paul is bad on the politics, and bad on the policy, in his immigration hawkishness. But he's outright wrong on the facts that the immigration policies Rubio is running for president on can be considered "open borders" in any stretch of that term.
For why, see these excerpts from Rubio's campaign site page on immigration, headlined: "Secure the Border First":
Making our legal immigration system a merit-based system that encourages innovators will have broad benefits for our economy…Transitioning to a merit-based, high-skilled immigration system would also help immigrants assimilate more quickly and easily into American economic and civil life….The benefits of a merit-based legal immigration system are widely (although not universally) accepted in America. So why, then, has nothing been done about it?…
A significant percentage of Americans simply don't trust either party in Washington to address other aspects of immigration reform before illegal immigration has been brought under control, and for good reason. The immigration reform law of 1986 legalized more than three million people who were here illegally, but the enforcement measures were never fully implemented.
For years President Obama, his allies in Congress and many immigration reform supporters have told us that the border was "as secure as ever." This fallacy was dramatically exposed when portions of our southern border were essentially overrun in the early part of 2014….
So what is the way forward?….On the enforcement side, we need additional investment in electronic monitoring and personnel. Building more fencing alone will not be enough to address illegal crossings. We also need to give employers a reliable way to check the legal status of the people they hire. We need to invest in an entry and exit tracking system to prevent visa overstays….achieving comprehensive reform of anything in a single bill is simply not realistic.
Having tried that approach, I know this to be true firsthand….The only way we are going to be able to break this impasse and make progress on this issue is in a sequential and piecemeal way, with a series of bills that build upon one another until ultimately we have put in place the kind of immigration system our nation needs.
The first step must be enforcement measures that are effective and verifiable. Such measures would include securing the most vulnerable and most trafficked sectors of the southern border, mandatory E-Verify and the full implementation of an entry-exit tracking system.
The second step is to modernize our legal immigration system toward a merit-based one. That would mean reassigning existing visas away from family-based immigration and toward work- and skill-based immigration, passing reforms for high-tech visas, as well as creating a limited guest worker program for seasonal workers in the agricultural sector to reduce the incentive for these workers to come here illegally in the future.
What to do with the 12 million people already here illegally? Rubio goes on to call for registering them all, tossing them if they've committed serious crimes, letting them apply for a temporary non-immigrant visa that will require application fee, background check, and English proficiency.
Then they could legally work and travel and to keep it would "have to pay taxes." They would be ineligible for Obamacare, welfare, or food stamps, and committing a crime would lose them their permit. They would need to stay in this status for at least a decade, then could apply for permanent residency, "the way anyone else would, not through any special pathway."
I have no idea what in this Paul could consider "open borders" in any way.
In fact, it all sounds in essence remarkably similar to the Rand Paul of 2013, as summed up by Matt Welch here:
But on policy, as foreshadowed, Paul wants to A) expand legal immigration now, emphasizing high-skilled labor; B) mandate "certified" border security (as determined by the Border Patrol and approved annually by Congress; C) set up a "bipartisan panel" (shudder) to "determine number of visas per year"; D) "admit we are not going to deport the millions of people who are currently here illegally"; E) specifically reject "a national ID card or mandatory E-Verify" system (yay!); and F) offer current unauthorized residents a "probationary" type of visa, allowing them to continue living and working in the country, while otherwise moving to the end of the immigration line, whatever that means in practice. They would not, as in other bipartisan immigration reforms currently being contemplated, have to pay a big fine.
Even Paul has admitted in the past that actually detaining or tossing the already-present illegal immigrants is impossible. And in terms of "toughness," Paul has enough libertarianism in his bones that he is weaker than Rubio on actual toughness-on-immigrants in rejecting the nightmare of E-Verify, even though it's a logical conclusion if you think that it's a serious problem having people coming here to work without the proper government issues paperwork.
Not sure what Paul is trying to accomplish with this hit on Rubio, but it is based on not having bothered to read Rubio's actual current policy recommendations or to re-visit his own 2013 pronouncements.