posted on March 19, 2013 16:53
On March 19, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) went a step further than the Republican National Committee and supported a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Paul said party members must embrace comprehensive immigration reform or deal with being out of political power for decades. "If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you," he said.
Paul's path to citizenship would come with conditions that could make it long and difficult for illegal immigrants. Chief among these, Congress would have to agree first that progress was being made on border security.
Paul's endorsement of allowing illegal immigrants an eventual way to become citizens puts him in line with a growing number of Republicans who are embracing action on immigration as a way to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal to Latinos. On Mar. 18, a Republican National Committee report called on the party to support comprehensive reform, though without specifying whether it should include a pathway to citizenship, which is decried by some conservatives as amnesty.
Paul's move also comes as a bipartisan group of senators is nearing agreement on sweeping legislation to overhaul U.S. immigration laws, an effort that could get a boost from Paul's stance.
Different from other approaches, Paul would not attempt to crack down on employers by expanding working verification systems – something he says is tantamount to "forcing businesses to become policemen."
"My plan will not grant amnesty or move anyone to the front of the line," Paul says. "But what we have now is de facto amnesty."
Paul has not spoken extensively on the issue so far, and is not part of the Senate group working on the issue, but he has expressed support for an eventual path to citizenship in the past for illegal immigrants, putting him to the left of many of his colleagues. Paul has been operating in lockstep in recent weeks with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who opposes a path to citizenship, so the immigration debate may test the new alliance.