Rand Paul’s Fatally Flawed Immigration Reform Plan

Senator Rand Paul has stepped into the immigration debate, but his plan is less than desirable.

U.S. Senate Members Hold Inaugural Tea Party Caucus Meeting

In yet another sign that he is at least considering the possibility of running for President in 2016, Senator Rand Paul became the latest Republican to put forward an immigration reform plan:

The dramatic shift in the Republican Party on immigration continued Tuesday, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a conservative tea party icon and possible 2016 presidential contender, endorsed an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws that would allow the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants to obtain legalized status.

“Immigration will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution. That’s why I’m here today: to begin that conversation and become part of the solution,” he said in a breakfast speech Tuesday morning before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

Paul’s position is especially significant because a number of other Republicans have been debating whether their party should endorse allowing people who broke U.S. immigration laws to remain in the country without fear of deportation.

He made his comments a day after the Republican National Committee released a somber autopsy of the GOP’s November election losses. It called for the party to embrace and champion an overhaul of the immigration system as its only hope to appeal to a growing bloc of Hispanic voters.

Paul outlined his own principles for an overhaul in a speech that elaborated on a proposal he made first in a Washington Times column in February.

The Kentucky senator outlined a path to legalization that would be more demanding than the principles advanced by a bipartisan group of senators who aim to introduce legislation in April. That group includes another likely 2016 contender and possible Paul rival, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Paul also called for expanding legal immigration — not a universally held position in the Republican Party. Some of its members believe that allowing more legal immigration will make it harder for Americans to find jobs.

Paul said he sought to turn illegal immigrants into taxpayers, which could ultimately lead to their becoming citizens. Despite early reports that he would endorse a pathway to citizenship in the speech, however, he did not specifically address the citizenship issue.

That is key because Republicans have been vigorously debating among themselves whether full citizenship should eventually be available to those who came to the United States illegally.

Paul said he would want Congress to be involved in certifying that border security has improved sufficiently to open the legalization path, a requirement that many immigrant advocates are sure to oppose as unnecessarily injecting politics into the process.

“Some may object to this,” he acknowledged. “But if we don’t, I don’t think we’ll get conservatives on board.”

He suggested that within two years, illegal immigrants should be able to seek temporary worker visas that would allow them to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Many news outlets, including The Washington Post, had reported that Paul would back a “path to citizenship” in his speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Those reports started circulating Monday evening, when the Associated Press obtained an advance copy of Paul’s remarks.

“The AP story was wrong, which spurred a lot of erroneous reports,” Paul’s office said in a statement. “He does not mention ‘path to citizenship’ in his speech at all.”

One Paul adviser told The Post that the path Paul is endorsing does not make it any easier to attain citizenship than current law allows.

“They would get into the back of the line and get no special privileges to do so,” said the adviser, who was not authorized to comment publicly. “What his plan is extending to them is a quicker path to normalization, not citizenship, and being able to stay, work and pay taxes legally.”

There are some similarities between Paul’s plan and the one put forward by a bipartisan group of Senators including Florida’s Marco Rubio last month but, as Byron York, there are also some key differences:

Paul, according to top aides, would begin with border security, without immediate legalization.  Under his proposal, the border would have to be verified secure by some government agency and then — this is a key step for Paul — voted on by Congress on a yearly basis.  Only after Congress declares the border secure would the process of legalization, and then a path to citizenship, begin.

It’s a huge difference for conservatives who object to the immediate legalization measures now under consideration.  “The border security has to be first and verifiable,” before anything, including legalization, happens, says a Paul aide.

In addition, Paul believes forcing Congress to verify border security will greatly increase the chance that border security is real, and not a charade.  “We feel like if you just hand the Obama administration a big pile of reforms and say, ‘Oh, by the way, you have to tell us the border is secure’ — we will get the reforms and not the border security,” says the aide.

Finally, Paul envisions his reforms instituted piecemeal after the certification of border security — not all at once, and subject to delay if security lapses.

Under the Rubio/Senate proposal, the entire plan would be implemented at once and people who are here illegally would be able to apply for legalization as soon as the law goes into effect. When the plan was released, this resulted in  much criticism of Rubio on the right, largely because it didn’t seem to place any conditions on the normalization of of status for some 11 million illegal immigrants. Indeed, despite Rubio’s popularity on the right, it strikes me that Paul’s plan will be more popular among conservative largely because it purports to put first priority on border security rather than dealing with the illegal immigration issue up from. While it may be politically palatable for conservatives, though, Paul’s plan seems to me to be problematic.

By requiring that something as amorphous as “border security” would have to be certified before any of the other parts of the plan could go into effect, Paul  is essentially proposing a plan that would never really work. For one thing, there really doesn’t seem to be any clear idea of what “border security” actually is. Does it mean real reductions in illegal crossings? Well, if that’s the case, then how exactly are we going to be able to determine that this is the case? Those people in Congress opposed to legalization of illegal immigrants will clearly use these Congressional votes to block implementation of those provisions of the law dealing with normalization. Given the current makeup of Congress, it’s fairly easy to see how even a small group of Republican hardliners could hold immigration reform hostage by claiming that the border still isn’t “secure.” That isn’t reform, it’s a guarantee for legislative gridlock. As far as the fortunes of the Republican Party go, such an outcome would only serve to further alienate Latinos from the Republican Party.

It’s good to see other Republicans proposing immigration reform, and Paul’s ideas are certainly welcome. However, as compared to the Rubio/Senate plan, Paul’s plan is fatally flawed and, if it ever did become law (which is unlikely), it would only serve to make a bad situation worse.

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FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    The “fundamental flaw” in Rand’s proposal is that it is
    a) coming from a Republican, and
    b) does not involve the summary execution of dark-skinned people.
    Ergo, it will never get anywhere in a Republican-dominated Congress…

    But, to actually say something non-snarky, Doug is quite correct – the predication on something as inherently indefinable as “border security” ensures that none of the dependent parts will _ever_ happen. It’s simply not a serious proposal.

    Additionally, even if there were some objective standard Paul could point to, the idea still fails even a basic test of logic – if you’re undocumented, and want to become a productive citizen of the US, you can’t even apply for that process until & unless the entire rest of the US Gov’t gets its collective shit together in securing the border. And if that doesn’t happen every single year, the process stops. And you have no control or influence over that whatsoever. This is the sort of immigration reform Kafka would have come up with. Or maybe Joseph Heller.

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    By requiring that something as amorphous as “border security” would have to be certified before any of the other parts of the plan could go into effect, Paul is essentially proposing a plan that would never really work.

    Bingo!!

    Indeed, this is a nonsensical plan. It’s not even a plan. It’s a fig leaf. Actually, it’s a bait-and-switch disguised as a fig leaf. Which isn’t surprising. Paul wouldn’t know immigration law from an irrigation canal. He has no legal education, no legal training, no legal experience. If you wanted to get your eyes checked out, then, yeah, Paul probably would be a good option. An overhaul of our nation’s immigration laws? Uh, not so much. And his handlers are not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.

    In any event, one way to make sure that we don’t have the same disastrous problems as we did after the Reagan-Kennedy amnesty law is simply to sunset 10 years out an amnesty-based immigration reform law. If they never bother in the intervening period to secure the borders then the law would not get renewed. So we’d revert back to the current status quo. If open borders folks in the interim were to take over politically then it’d become a moot point; and vice-versa, if in the interim the extreme right were to obtain power. Either way at least we get a decade of real reform. Sunsetting laws is a valuable tool, when used judiciously.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Which isn’t surprising. Paul wouldn’t know immigration law from an irrigation canal.

    And you would????

  4. Tony W says:

    Securing the border is easy. We simply go to great expense to build a 1 Km wide double fence which was mined between the fences from the ocean to the gulf – just like the Koreas have done.

    This is the most divisive issue in the Republican party – half the party wants the illegals to cross the border to serve as both pariah and cheap labor. The other half wants to pull the ladder up behind them and keep ‘Merica white.

    This is why no Republican plan on this topic can be serious. There is, however, no word why nothing else they propose is serious.

  5. PogueMahone says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Paul wouldn’t know immigration law from an irrigation canal. He has no legal education, no legal training, no legal experience.

    If argumentum ad verecundiam is your game, then maybe you might want to appeal to someone who has “legal education, legal training, legal experience”?

    Like, oh I don’t know, a former law professor, maybe? Now where would we find one of those?

    Just sayin’ 😉

    Cheers.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    It is entertaining watching Republicans try to deal with their suden realisation that Latinos actually vote. Any day now they’ll figure out that women vote, too.

  7. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    “Those people in Congress opposed to legalization of illegal immigrants will clearly use these Congressional votes to block implementation of those provisions of the law dealing with normalization.”

    Note to Doug: This isn’t a problem of his proposal; it’s the key feature of it. How else is he going to run as the “guy who tried to reform the immigration quagmire that we have but couldn’t get any one to work with him on it?” It’s typical GOP tactics–if you’re not totally on my side you’re the obstructionist.

  8. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Women voting is not as much of a problem–everyone knows that women vote the way their husbands tell them to.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Women voting is not as much of a problem–everyone knows that women vote the way their husbands tell them to.

    No wonder the GOP has so many problems with single women…

  10. Andre Kenji says:

    In fact, immigration and the border is not going to be a problem for a long time.

    Immigration was profitable in the past because someone could go to the US, work for some years washing dishes or cleaning gardens and then return home to Guerrero or Guatemala and use the saved money to open a small grocery store or buy a house. The dollar was a stronger currency, and differences between the cost of life and purchasing parity meant that a relatively small quantity of dollars could buy a lots of things in Latin America. Many people stayed in the US, but that difference in the purchasing power of the dollar that created the biggest incentive to emigrate.

    Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke solved the problem by printing a lot of dollars. Due to the devaluation of the dollar and the commodities boom the difference of purchasing power between the dollar and most Latin American currencies is now small.

    Besides that, healthcare in Latin America is cheaper and better than in the US. Way cheaper, by the way. The food is also better.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Paul’s immigration plan is to pander to Hispanics, because the GOP is starting to see they cannot win a national election without them. End of story.

    The Republican 2016 freak show is already starting. God help us…

  12. anjin-san says:

    healthcare in Latin America is cheaper and better than in the US. Way cheaper, by the way. The food is also better.

    My country tis of thee, land of obesity…

  13. superdestroyer says:

    @anjin-san:

    Any Republicans who believes that pandering to Hipsanics will get them votes is a fool. The Democrats can always outpander the Republicans. If Comprehensive Immigration Reform is passed during the next three years, the Republicans will receive a smaller portion of the Hispanic vote than they received in 2008 or 2012. Rand Paul is an idiot if he thinks amnesty and open borders will help the Republicans.

    The more conservative party should face facts and just admit it will never be able to appeal to a demographic group where 1/3 of the children drop out of high school and more than 50% of children are born to single mothers.

    The real question for white elite progressives is how they plan to fund a growing entitlement state with a population of third world immigrants and their out of wedlock children.

  14. Davebo says:

    The more conservative party should face facts and just admit it will never be able to appeal to a demographic group where 1/3 of the children drop out of high school and more than 50% of children are born to single mothers.

    Here’s hoping those conservatives choose to rely on your BS “facts” rather than reality! And history shows they may well do so.

  15. superdestroyer says:

    @Davebo: 4

    Do you really want me to link to the data on ethnicity and out of wedlock births for the tenth time to show that Latinos are not the least bit conservative but are actually very liberal in their politics.

    How does the more conservative party appeal to single mothers who depend heavily on government services, want more of them, and want others to pay for them?

  16. superdestroyer says:

    @Davebo:

    Thank you for reinforcing my idea that for all of the talk of progressives being
    “reality-based,” progressives will refuse to acknowledge any fact that does not support their world view. I guess progressives get to feel superior when they discuss totally irrelevant topics like creationism but refuse to face the demographic situation that the U.S. faces in the future.

    Do you really think that the U.S. can have a growing economy and a Nordic style social safety net with most children being born to single mothers and most of those mothers being in the bottom third of the economic ladder?

  17. C. Clavin says:

    I don’t understand a Libertarian wanting to regulate immigration.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    “…How does the more conservative party appeal to single mothers who depend heavily on government services, want more of them, and want others to pay for them?…”

    That they want more services and want others to pay for them is nothing more than your racism.
    But in answer to your general question…first of all Republicans could actually be Conservative…which they are not today. And second by helping to create an economy that provides opportunity for all…not just tax cuts for the richest white folks.
    I know you won’t understand this…can’t begin to understand it…but I had to try.

  19. ptfe says:

    @superdestroyer: “Do you really think that the U.S. can have a growing economy and a Nordic style social safety net with most children being born to single mothers and most of those mothers being in the bottom third of the economic ladder?”

    One of the key features of a “Nordic-style social safety net” is, of course, that it’s Nordic:

    “Of the 14 developed countries surveyed, the highest unwed birth rates were among the Scandinavian nations (66 percent in Iceland, 55 percent in Sweden, 54 percent in Norway and 46 percent in Denmark).”

  20. Miguel Madeira says:

    “Of the 14 developed countries surveyed, the highest unwed birth rates were among the Scandinavian nations (66 percent in Iceland, 55 percent in Sweden, 54 percent in Norway and 46 percent in Denmark).”

    Afaik, these “unwed birth rates” in nordic countries are largely children of cohabiting couples, not of single mothers.

  21. J-Dub says:

    @anjin-san:

    My country,’ veggie-free,
    land of obesity, drive-thru and sing;
    land where my fathers fried,
    nuggets of chicken hides,
    McDonald’s would never lie, pass the onion rings!

  22. Tony W says:

    @Miguel Madeira:

    Afaik, these “unwed birth rates” in nordic countries are largely children of cohabiting couples, not of single mothers.

    Same thing according to the SuperDxxxx worldview in which the White America 1950s (as portrayed on “Happy Days”) was the high point of American ‘history’.

  23. cleverboots says:

    There is no reason to reward those who have entered the country illegally with full citizenship.
    Their clear disregard for our laws does not indicate that they will become the law abiding citizens we welcome here. Furthermore, rewarding law breakers sends the wrong message to all of those who have earned citizenship the legal way. Citizenship is a privilege, not a right and no country has an obligation to grant that privilege if there are reasons against it such as breaking our laws. We are being forced to accept illegal immigrants for no other reason than that they are here when they are not entitled to be This is wrong and unacceptable. Other countries do not allow illegal immigration and neither should we.

  24. anjin-san says:

    @ cleverboots

    Their clear disregard for our laws

    Have you ever broken the speed limit? Yes?

    Kindly head down to the DMV and turn your license in. Maybe you can have it back in a few years when you learn to respect the law.

  25. cleverboots says:

    Not quite the same as entering a country illegally and staying in it illegally for years.

  26. Andre Kenji says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do you really think that the U.S. can have a growing economy and a Nordic style social safety net

    There is no Nordic style social safety net in the United States. The United States is the only country in the world where there is no health care budget – to me, a foreigner, Medicare is a bizarre system because it´s a system where there is no protection against abuse or fraud. In the Nordic countries there are strong prices controls.

    Besides that, part of the problem in the US is that even relatively small numbers of unemployed people is a problem because there is relatively little safety net for them. The US spends fair more on certain kinds of spending than Nordic countries, and fair less in other kinds of spending.

  27. David M says:

    @cleverboots:

    Not quite the same as entering a country illegally and staying in it illegally for years.

    You’re absolutely right on that, as speeding by itself is more dangerous to your fellow citizens.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    “…Their clear disregard for our laws does not indicate that they will become the law abiding citizens we welcome here…”

    So you advocate trying Bush and Cheney for the war crimes they have admitted to?

  29. anjin-san says:

    @ Cleverboots

    Not quite the same as entering a country illegally and staying in it illegally for years.

    So you get to decide what laws need to be obeyed and which ones don’t? Perhaps the illegals feel the same way.

  30. superdestoryer says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    but progressives want to have a Nordic style safety net in the U.S. Yet, they never bother to reconcile their idea of a much larger safety net with their support for open borders and unlimited immigration. When you look at the two ideas together, one can easily conclude that the real agenda is to just increase the size and scope of the government.

    And Medicare is a good example of price controls. Medicare reimburses the same for a procedure for all physicians. Physicians then have to be very careful ( or corrupt) in coding their diagnosis to maximize their reinbursements. The fraud in Medicare is lying to the government. A bigger safety net just makes that problem bigger.

  31. Dave Francis says:

    HAS THE TEA PARTY BEEN BETRAYED BY THEIR FAVORITES

    By now we all know that President Obama is going to stretch his executive privilege to pass some form of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, because he wants the votes from the majority of the new Socialist Democrats? Although why even bother with elections when unknown numbers of non citizens voted, perhaps twice or more in different communities?

    None of the gang of eight Senators or those complying with the same decisions, seem that very little thought has been attributed to the millions of Americans who either are searching for a job, working in a part time environment or just depressingly have just refrained from looking? All that seems to be publicized is the corporate people who demand the highly skilled visa applications be given priority, which should be advanced to some degree? Or the agricultural people that is yelling about the need for more discount farm workers, but not necessarily wants to pay standard wages, and certainly not going to cover medical care or any other benefit; that’s left to the gullible American taxpayer, who carries the load for not only the Guest workers, but a large majority of illegal aliens. It looks pretty clear that in the coming months some tenuous form of comprehensive immigration reform will find passage through Congress. If the American people cannot put the brakes on it, then all the Senators and House Republicans must enact a mandatory E-Verify system, which coupled with the IMAGE program, will locate in every businesses illegal workers. And further to a nationwide E-Verify law being passed, it must cover all labor; NOT JUST NEW HIRES? THIS BILL MUST BE AT THE FOREFRONT, AS WITHOUT IT THE NEW WAVES OF ILLEGAL ALIENS WILL BE STEALING JOBS AGAIN AND WE IT WILL BE A VICIOUS CYCLE BEGINNING ALL OVER AGAIN? Whether or not it’s a partner to the Save Act or better known as the LEGAL WORKFORCE BILL, it must be brought for a vote.

    We should thank our lucky stars today that we have the unbiased relief of the Internet, or the American public would certainly not be aware of debates in Congress. If for one minute you are going to get the whole truth from the Liberal media, that’s a joke in itself? These special interest groups have never mentioned that over a million more migrants and immigrant nuclear families arrive here annually, many sponsored by citizens? After sponsorship the sponsors intentionally fail to live up to the responsibility of financially supporting a mother or Father, which the taxpayer becomes obligated to see for their needs. It is the same with the craftily fabricated 14th Amendment, the smuggling of young children or babies, whether by airline or across the borders of Mexico and Canada. It all boils down to thousands of pregnant Mothers seeing a chance to gain citizenship for that child/children, that once domiciled here there is unlikely to be a deportation order? The whole burden then falls on the taxpayer to support the mother, who then cohabits with an illegal husband or boyfriend and starts the relentless conveyor belt of newborns. Thus the family financial pot fills up with direct assistance from the state general funds, to feed, house and attribute free emergency care. It a nice set up that has worked for years that qualifies the citizen child/progeny free payments of cash, compliments of the taxpayer. This is the solid reason why the Birthright citizenship law, must be changed that only parents who are citizens can confer on their offspring the right to citizenship.

    Hardly any of us would now about the secret closed door negotiations of the gang of eight, until it’s too late. Even the TEA PARTY favorites Marco Rubio and Rand Paul seems to accepted some form of Pathway to Citizenship, without thinking of the imminent flood of people who will also be expecting to be included in this blanket amnesty or whatever..? They however, have furnished detail that the border barriers must be secure, but does that mean revising the design of prior President Bush 2006 SECURE FENCE ACT. IS THE TWO OR THREE FENCES PARALLEL TO EACH OTHER GOING TO STRETCH FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO TO SAN DIEGO? IS IT GOING TO BE SIMILAR IN CONSTRUCTION TO THE 15 MILE SAN DIEGO DOUBLE LAYER FENCE, AS SEEN IN CALIFORNIA. OR IS THIS JUST A DOWNRIGHT LIE WE ARE GOING TO BE FED? FENCE OR NOT, WITHOUT INTERNAL ENFORCEMENT AS MANDATORY E-VERIFY, OR A NATION ID CARD, TO REPLACE THE AGING SOCIAL SECURITY CARD NUMBER IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM THAT HAS SURELY BEEN COMPROMISED, THAT ALL PHYSICAL BARRIERS ARE A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY.

    Publicized on the first page of the pro-sovereignty organization NumbersUSA is a letter to The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate:

    Read the whole letter and judge for yourself?

    A group of six GOP Senators that sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Committee Chairman Pat Leahy on Tuesday urging him to hold more committee hearings before marking up the Gang of Eight’s legislation when it’s introduced. The letter was signed by Ranking Member Chuck Grassley and Senators Jeff Sessions, Mike Lee, John Cornyn, Orrin Hatch, and Ted Cruz. In the letter, the Senators point out that America’s immigration system hasn’t been reformed in 30 years, and before the amnesty bill was passed in 1986, it was preceded by 100 hours of hearings with 300 witnesses before a markup. The letter also points out that the Senate Judiciary Committee has only held one immigration hearing this Congress, and there hasn’t been an oversight hearing for the Department of Homeland Security since April 2012. The Senators also note that there are 43 new Senators since the last time a comprehensive immigration reform bill was brought before the Congress.

    I think by now that hopefully these supposedly servants of the people in Washington, should get it in there thick skulls that 11 to 25 million or more illegal aliens should not get any Path to Citizenship or anything else, specifically when hard working taxpayers are their beneficiaries. Just the processing of this many people will be an added expense to the near 17 Trillion dollars we own nations as China. How can we keep on adding more people to the welfare line, when millions of citizens and legal residents are waiting patiently at food banks or lining-up with foreign nationals for food stamps? We cannot give any ground of any kind is to fight back by calling your politician at the Central Washington phone number at (202) 224-312. . LEARN THE ACTUALITY OF OUR BORDERS AND EXAMINE THE HIDDEN NEWS AND REPORTS AT AMERICANPATROL. ALSO SIGN THE PETITION AT THE NUMBERSUSA site to show your disdain. (Hundreds of thousands of irate citizens and legal residents, have already signed the petition already) Confront your Senator or Congressional House with post cards, demanding they stop the current path of overpopulation and Balkanization and taxing Americans to support foreigners. Flood Facebook and Twitter with intelligence, as the other side do. Contact your local press and TV station, because the end is near for commonsense and also another hit on the hurting taxpayer. However the best avenue to get results is to directly phone your person in Congress via the aide and leave your dispute against illegal immigration, a demand for the real wall, e-verify, repealing illegal aliens children gaining citizenship and of major importance a nation ID card for every citizen and legal resident.

  32. cleverboots says:

    I wonder if the gang of 8 have considered the possibility of resentment or backlash from those who entered our country legally? They are entitled to feel aggrieved if our laws are pushed aside to make it easier to enter illegally and stay here. Why is the United Staes allowing itself to be blackmailed into accepting 11 million illegal residents?. I doubt that any other country on earth would passively accept such nonsense.

  33. fred says:

    time for a people’s March on Washington to push for gun safety, jobs, immigration reform, corporation reform and women’s issues. Most of us are ready to let we the people speak.