As Senate debates immigration reform, Kentucky senator pushes work visas instead of unqualified grants of citizenship
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he’s considering offering a hard-line House immigration bill in the Senate during this week’s open debate over former President Barack Obama’s quasi-amnesty program.
The debate kicked off Monday, but Paul noted Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that all of the proposals extend amnesty far more widely than the Securing America’s Future Act sponsored in the House last month by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Rául Labrador (R-Idaho), and others.
Unlike the proposals discussed so far in the Senate, the Goodlatte bill offers work visas — but not a path to citizenship — for the 690,000 young adult illegal immigrants currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“That is something that we ought to consider in the Senate as well,” Paul said. “But interestingly, there hasn’t been anybody talking about bringing up the Goodlatte-Labrador bill in the Senate. So we’re discussing that in our office, whether or not we ought to put that forward as an alternative.”
Republicans in the Senate are split between a more liberal immigration approach, championed by Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and a conservative alternative by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that includes more significant restrictions on future legal immigration.
But Paul pointed out that both versions would grant amnesty to 1.8 million illegal immigrants brought to America as children — far greater than the DACA population.
Paul said he is looking forward to this week’s debate, which promises a completely open process.
“This is going to be the first time we’ve had an open debate with open amendments,” he said. “And they say they’re not gonna block amendments. Typically around here, you realize that leadership blocks all amendments. And it’s a secret deal done behind closed doors.”
Paul is coming off a week in which he made a mostly lonely stand against a bipartisan budget deal that obliterates spending restraints that had been in place since 2011. He defended himself against charges of hypocrisy for warning about rising debt while voting for tax cuts projected to add to it.
Paul noted that he proposed cutting spending at the same time he voted for the tax cuts. But he lamented that only four other senators joined him in that effort.
“I don’t know if you’re a hypocrite if you’re for tax cuts and spending cuts,” he said. “I do think you’re a hypocrite if you’re for tax cuts and spending increases. And that’s what I was calling out here.”
Paul said last week’s vote on the budget represented a full-throated betrayal of the Tea Party movement that in 2010 helped bring Republicans to power in Congress during President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House.
“Now, you know, our government is controlled, all three branches by Republicans, and we’re gonna get trillion-dollar annual deficits,” he said. “No, somebody has to still be a conservative.”
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Republicans agreed to the budget deal because it was the only way they could get the increases in military spending they long have sought. Paul said proponents of Pentagon hikes are addressing the wrong problem.
“The real question you have to ask honestly here is, is the military budget too small, or is the mission too large?” he said. “And I, frankly, think we have to look at that.”
“Our insolvency, really, it does affect our national security,” he said.
Paul said America is stretched too thin, with military engagements in too many countries.
“Our insolvency, really, it does affect our national security,” he said. “I agree with those who say the number-one threat, actually, to our national security actually is our debt. And so, for those who say more, more, more for military spending, I think they’re the ones that are threatening our national security.”