The momentum for real immigration reform that gives a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants continues to grow, but Rand Paul’s speech yesterday to the 2013 U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) fails to even mention the word “citizenship”. This telling omission places Rand Paul squarely in line with Jeb Bush and many conservative Republicans.
The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the speech (see the above link for the final version) and incorrectly reported that Paul supported a “pathway to citizenship.” However, as reported by the AP in a follow up story, Rand aides “aggressively contested” reports that he supports such a path.
Further, Senator Paul echoed the tired line that the border must be secured before any reform can take place, saying:
The first part of my plan – border security – must be certified by Border Patrol and an Investigator General and then voted on by Congress to ensure it has been accomplished.
Of course, this gives Paul and like-minded far right Republicans an easy path-to-inaction on immigration reform since, as reported by Immigration Impact, a recent hearing on border security
…was ostensibly devoted to answering the question “What Does a Secure Border Look Like?” but might very well have been titled “When Is Enough Ever Enough?”
So, to be absolutely clear, contrary to previous reports, Republican Senator Rand Paul does not support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And if he does, he should have the political chutzpah to unambiguously clarify his position. Although Paul's plan does call for more visas for entrepreneurs and others, at least it does not call for mass “self-deportations” as did 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Of course, the only reason Rand Paul’s immigration comments really matter is because he beat out fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio 25% to 23% in a recent presidential straw poll at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action (CPAC) convention. Otherwise, Paul’s comments could be easily dismissed, much like Sarah Palin’s derisive comments about President Obama (and just about everything else she said during her speech).
But the problem for moderate conservatives is that the proposed change in tone to Hispanics is not matched by a change in Republican policies. The GOP is stuck a far-right rut that still continues to alienate gays, Hispanics, and women. Even worse, by continuing to place barriers to the right to vote, Republicans continue to undermine the very core American values they profess to support.