Does Rand Paul Support Amnesty? Yes

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Read his lips

We’ve gone over this exhaustively and apparently we’ll be going over this exhaustively until the cows and the illegals come home.

The underlying problem, as I said yesterday, is that amnesty advocates like Rubio and Rand, insist on using misleading language that doesn’t clearly communicate what they mean.

Rand Paul is for a process that will turn millions of illegal aliens into citizens. But he doesn’t like to use the word “Amnesty” and now he decided that he doesn’t like the term “Path to Citizenship” either. So he’s against the word and the term,  but he’s for the process.

Rand Paul delivered a speech which did not use the word “citizenship”, but said that the 12 million would integrate into our society. When asked afterward if he meant citizenship, he said yes.

And, as Paul made clear following the speech, that’s exactly what he’s supporting. When asked if his plan granting work visas to the 11 million undocumented workers in the country would mean they could, eventually, become citizens, Paul said yes.

According to his aides, there was also a path to citizenship. And the latter comes from a supportive piece in the Washington Examiner.

The AP is claiming that Rand Paul had citizenship in his prepared speech, but then deleted the reference during his actual speech. And while the AP may not be trustworthy, he and his office did say they support a path to citizenship afterward.

On his conference call, Rand Paul complained that “the whole debate on immigration is trapped in a couple of words: ‘pathway to citizenship’ and ‘amnesty.’ If we get trapped in these terms, either for or against, we’re going to get polarized.”

That’s Politicianspeak (TM) for “I support Amnesty, but don’t want to say so.”

Then in an adoring Jennifer Rubin piece, Rand Paul complained that he doesn’t like using specific words like amnesty or citizenship…

Paul struggled valiantly to tell the media that haggling over terms like “path to citizenship” and “amnesty” gets the debate nowhere. “[The debate] is trapped in a couple of words — ‘path to citizenship’ and ‘amnesty,’ ” he said. Taking a shot at the anti-immigration advocates, he said later in the call, “Everybody who doesn’t want anything to move forward calls anything they don’t like a ‘path to citizenship’ and ‘amnesty.’”

Sounding a tad forlorn, he then asked, “Can’t we just call it reform?”

The best way for the debate to go somewhere is to say what you mean. Rand Paul, like most amnesty advocates, is allergic to that.

A path to citizenship means something very clear. Reform means nothing.

He also clarified a number of other points. His plan differs from others circulating in requiring a yearly congressional vote to certify border security. But once that is obtained, he would ease the way “to normalize the people here.” In response to my question on fines, back taxes and other penalties, he said, “I’m not as a big a stickler” on those items. He noted that at the work visa stage many people are of modest means and such requirements could mean “you’d never be able to do it.”

As for citizenship, he went around and around with reporters, reiterating in response to each variation on the same question that for citizenship the new visa holders would “get in line” or “go to the back of the line.” He referred to the “existing” line but allowed that there had to be discussion about country limits, how many people are in line, how long they must wait, etc.

He also indicated he was open to “rethinking” his opposition to granting citizenship to children brought here illegally if the border security issue can be resolved.

So Rand Paul is open to anchor babies and minimal on any post-border enforcement. And he compulsively dodges the question of citizenship. (And this is from a piece by a RINO columnist who supports Rand and his position.)

But once you pin him down, he supports citizenship after an extended waiting period. He just won’t say so clearly and when he does, he will then try to deny it.

After yesterday’s backlash, Rand Paul appears to have taken refuge in still more ambiguity.

 “I didn’t use the word citizenship at all this morning,” Paul said. ”Basically what I want to do is to expand the worker visa program, have border security and then as far as how people become citizens, there already is a process for how people become citizens. The main difference is I wouldn’t have people be forced to go home. You’d just get in line. But you get in the same line everyone is in.”

So the new Rand Paul strategy is to claim that he doesn’t support a path to citizenship, he just supports legalizing workers… at which point they’ll eventually become citizens on their own.

Some conservative sites have been taken in and are insisting that Rand Paul really doesn’t support a path to citizenship. His answer makes it ambiguously murkily clear that he supports it, he just doesn’t support taking credit for it.

Instead Rand Paul breaks down the Path to Citizenship into two separate parts. A legalization part which he will take credit for and a citizenship part which he won’t take credit for, even though the legalization leads to citizenship.

That’s like saying you don’t support freeing rapists from jail, you just support eliminating penalties against rape. If you support one, you also support the other because it’s the outcome of your proposal.

Setting aside the question of whether you support amnesty or not… the entire way that Rand Paul goes about discussing the issue is  dishonest.

He’s not willing to alienate either pro-amnesty or anti-amnesty voters, so he keeps it as vague as possible and then makes it even vaguer.

If Rand Paul wanted to endorse a path to citizenship, all he had to do say was say it. If he wanted to deny it, all he had to do was make it clear that legalization would mean temporary worker status with no right to apply for permanent status or citizenship.

But Rand Paul refuses to say either one. Instead he complains that defining what he means is “polarizing” and “unproductive”.

Even though Paul would clearly make it easier to become a citizen, he said he would rather not label it a “path to citizenship,” because using that phrases means everyone “closes their ears” to the rest of the argument.

Is this really what we want? Politicians who won’t say what they mean because then they’re afraid we won’t listen to their argument?

But if you’re not convinced that Rand Paul supports amnesty, then just read his own words in a Washington Times column last month.

The gang of eight wants back taxes and fines.  Most of these undocumented immigrants are poor and may not be able to ever pay ten years of back payroll taxes.  I would be willing to forego the fines and back taxes in exchange for a longer and significant time period before these folks are eligible to enter into the green card line.

Currently, undocumented immigrants have a pathway to citizenship.  They can leave the United States and enter legally in about ten years.   They just value staying in America, even with the pitfalls of being undocumented, more than returning to Mexico or Central America for ten years.

To those who complain that if anyone is allowed to stay without returning to Mexico that it amounts to amnesty, I say: What we have now is de facto amnesty.  No undocumented immigrants are being sent home and no one is seriously advocating rounding up and sending home 11 million people.  Immigration reform begins the process of bringing these folks out of the shadows and making American taxpayers out of them.

I share the goal of a working immigration system, and a new approach to allowing those here in our country who want to work and stay out of trouble to stay here. But I will not repeat the mistakes of the past when vague promises were made and not kept. Would I hope that when they become citizens, these new immigrants will remember Republicans who made this happen?  Yes.

The National Review’s Mark Kirkorian said it best. Don’t stand with Rand.

  • Spikey1

    We know that everyone is going to have some baggage no matter what political stance you take.
    With that out of the way, what are we looking for in a leader:
    • A Democrat – nope
    • A Republican – this has gotten us no where for a quite awhile.
    • A Conservative – the ones we currently have are not much different than the Republicans.
    • A Libertarian – humph, never really thought about it.

    Our very freedoms are under attack daily by Democrats and the majority of Republicans are joining in with them. It is time to bring stuff, all the way back to basics, and shake things up a bit; as our Forefathers once did.
    Don't we deserve / need more freedom?
    Don't we deserve some individuality?
    Shouldn't this nation and our peoples be our first concern?

    The people that can make this happen are not the Democrats or the Republicans, it must be someone else i.e. a Libertarian.

    And if you don't like a Libertarian – You simply just don't believe in freedom and the power it has.

    • Ar'nun

      "And if you don't like a Libertarian – You simply just don't believe in freedom and the power it has. "

      Or we have listened to what the coo coo bird Libertarians like the Pauls, Jesse "The 9/11 Truther" Ventura, and Gary "The Pothead" Johnson have had to say and realize we would be better off electing the nut in Times Sq preaching about the upcoming apocalypse.

      Especially after 8 years of a Progressive radical destroying our National Defense, the last thing we need to follow is some ex WWF Wrestler who runs around the country talking about conspiracies all day or the Pauls who believe if we just leave everyone alone they won't hate us.

      • Spikey1

        If those are the only Libertarians you are or have listened to then you my friend are the one with the problem – go pick up a book by Milton Friedman, stop by some blog spots where Thomas Sowell writes, or god forbid take some non-keynesian economics classes.

        In terms of Rand Paul and what ever word will work out to mean basically amnesty, what solution do you propose the the illegal alien issue?
        Rounding them up and kicking them out? Will never happen even though I'd be for it.
        On the international front; is tossing money and weapons around to our enemies helpful? I don't think so and I'd go as far to say that we probably shouldn't.
        Have the recent wars we are involved (actively or supportive) in been bad or good for the us and the world as a whole? I don't think so and it surely hasn't raised how we are viewed by the rest of the world i.e. We are involved and they hate us anyway.

        Note: I'm a fan of the US Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura due to his service to this great nation but I agree with you that his whole conspiracies thing is a bit far flung, you do realize it is TV and he is trying to get higher ratings and thus more money by being controversial.

        So the story goes; we can continue on this declining path; nanny state, no sodas, socialism, etc… or we can do something about it and if you, for 1 min, think a Republican is going to turn things around you are just blind.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Let's start with something simple.

          Do you think that Rand Paul should clarify that his proposal will result in illegal aliens becoming United States Citizens?

          • Spikey1

            I think all politicians should be honest and yes that would also imply that he should.
            In my opinion, we should all be having a debate about what to do on in this area and others – just not vilifying a person over it for we will run out of people to vilify over whatever the whim of the day is.

            Can we get rid of the illegals? Nope
            Can we do it w/out creating a larger (see less freedom) government? Nope

          • Daniel Greenfield

            And the place to begin having that debate is with the senators who advocate something being straight about it.

            Can we get rid of illegals? We used to be able to do it with a much smaller government.

            Can we legalize millions of illegals and have a more freedom government? No, we can't.

        • Ar'nun

          As great as Friedman and Sowell are neither will ever run for office so your point is mute.

          As far as the other stuff, we are not going to argue about the clearly stupid politicians should be doing, but Conservatism trumps Libertarianism due to the whole defending the country part vs the isolationist nonsense.

          And don't defend Ventura just because he was a SEAL once upon a time. If that were more important to him than the voices only he hears that tell him 9/11was an inside job, he wouldn't be currently sueing one of his brothers .

          • Spikey1

            I consider myself a Conservative that leans Libertarian and I am religious.
            Find me a Conservative and I'll vote for them.
            Harder still is to find a Conservative that the GOP will pick.
            I predict another Romneyesque person will be the GOP chosen one and we will suffer another 4 years of a Democrat POTUS.

            We can defend the country w/out running around every hell hole or supplying weapons and money to them.

            Ventura – I don't really give two shats what he says, he doesn't speak for me and I really don't care what he does – you brought it up as a subject and if you read what I wrote I wasn't defending him – I was only giving him props for a thing he did in the past while also reminding you that it is TV – fake.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Libertarianism, like every other political philosophy, is not an absolute good. Thinking that way leads to totalitarianism.

      There are good things about it, but there are also self-destructive things about it.

      Proposing to turn 11 million voters who oppose libertarian ideas into citizens is an example of the latter.

      • Spikey1

        The mods are not approving my comments so I'll simplify things as much as possible.
        What do you plan on doing with all the illegals in this country?
        It will be impossible to get rid of them.

        Note: I would like them not to be here and rounded up and kicked out of the country, but that isn't going to happen – ever.

        • Ar'nun

          We'll never catch every crack dealer either, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying. Between making earning a living more difficult (and not subsidizing them) and rounding up as many as possible and deporting them, we could could at least bring the number down to something more manageable.

          • Spikey1

            I think I made my position quite clear with "I would like them not to be here and rounded up and kicked out of the country".
            We shouldn't be subsidizing them – see: Smaller federal government
            We should be deporting the ones we catch – see: The Federal government actually doing their Constitutionally mandated job.

            I'm would not be for; any more laws or any growth of the government to do so.

          • Spikey1

            If it would save lives should some drugs be made legal and which ones?

            Note: I don't do any drugs and rarely even have a drink and it is not the illegality of the drugs that is stopping me from doing them – it is just not something I choose to do.

            Is it your job to stop someone (a non minor) from harming themselves via a decree from the Federal Government?
            If it is your job and the federal governments job – where exactly is that line drawn; crack, opium, pot, coffee, soda, cheeseburgers, french fries, snickers bars?

          • Ar'nun

            Then why not decriminalize food with glass in it? Lets decriminalize pedophilia. Why should the government be allowed to tell people how old they can be to consent?

          • Spikey1

            You are full of strawmen today.

            Food glass – because the adult consumer is un-aware of a known danger, where as everyone of sound mind and an adult knows smoking will kill you.
            Pedophilia – minor – see above, I specifically stated "non-minor".
            Consent – This is currently controlled by the individual states (where it should be controlled) – Not by the federal government.

            You must now go and find some better straw to use.

  • Georga

    I recently discovered that I have mice in my house. I didn't invite them but here they are. They like it here and don't want to leave. I don't want them here because they eat my things and poop….so the only thing I can does force them to leave. I'm using D-Con.

  • g_jochnowitz

    My Aunt Charlotte, a naturalized American citizen, married Joe in 1940. In 1939, Joe had crossed the ocean as a stowaway, then jumped into New York harbor and swam to shore. When America entered World War II, Joe joined the army, which accepted any volunteer as long as the number his arms and legs added up to three or more (I exaggerate). After the war, he became a citizen. His life was productive, and his children and grandchildren are gifted, beautiful and energetic Americans.
    If Uncle Joe had been deported, he would have died in the Holocaust.

  • Questions

    Rand Paul is as clueless as Ron Paul. He dredges up every imaginable cliche ("get in back of the line," "living in the shadows") to justify undermining our identity and rule of law. Has he taken even a minute of his time to understand immigration issues?

    From the start, I suspected Sen. Paul was a lightweight riding on the coattails of his vastly overrated father. Now I know.

  • southofcincy

    Mark Kirkorian's piece also quotes Politico from last November – which included this from Rand: “If we assimilate those who are here, however they got here — don’t make it an easy path for citizenship. There would be an eventual path, but we don’t make anybody tomorrow a citizen who came here illegally. But if they’re willing to work, willing to pay taxes, I think we need to normalize those who are here.” ……….Bottomline, he believes he couldn't become President without also catering to Latino voters (who have historically voted Democrat, even after a Republican granted mass amnesty in 1986).

  • Rifleman

    Rand must be new or something. This amnesty won't bring about a working immigration system or more Republican voters any more than the last one did. Will they never learn? How many times have we heard tax increases today for spending cuts tomorrow, and amnesty today for securing the border tomorrow? I quit falling for those decades ago.

    The only thing worse than defacto amnesty for border crashers (“Undocumented immigrants,” really?) is official amnesty. If border crashers can’t get a job for lack of documentation they self-deport, so we don’t have to round them up. Rand’s even using 15 year old leftist numbers, as if that wasn’t a lowball then, millions haven’t been crashing our border every year since, and no illegals have had babies here. Lol, their babies are having babies now, so who is he kidding?

  • Rifleman

    What leverage will he and the GOP have for immigration reform or to secure the border after amnesty? What makes Rand think the GOP can shut down the dp's illegal alien gravy train, when it's working so well for them as it is, and the GOP's half-a'd attempts have failed miserably for two and a half decades now? And why should anyone to believe new laws will be enforced when they won't enforce the laws we have now? I'm not the sharpest spoon in the drawer, but I'm not that stupid.

    Legal immigrants sure won't reward them for the slap in the face, and the border crashers will still vote for the democrats, whose idea it was. It sure won’t get him votes from conservatives. It looks like and is just trying to excuse his and the GOP’s next fold with the same old bs.

  • Edward Cline

    This is the guy who won the CPAC straw poll to run in 2016?

    "He’s not willing to alienate either pro-amnesty or anti-amnesty voters, so he keeps it as vague as possible and then makes it even vaguer….But Rand Paul refuses to say either one. Instead he complains that defining what he means is “polarizing” and “unproductive”.

    This is the guy who is afraid of taking a position one way or another? This is presidential material? This is the guy conservatives are pinning their hopes on?

    One of my favorite movie lines is from "Double Indemnity." A man says, "I'm from Medford. Medford, Oregon. We say what we mean, and we mean what we say."

    Obviously, Rand Paul isn't from Medford. He's a "Nowhere Man."

  • Cat K

    IMHO Rand Paul is actually a liberal and a Democrat in all but name. Libertarianism is kind of cutesy. It lets folks feel all freedom-y and proud and let's them smoke pot (worse for lungs -more carcinogenic than tobacco). Many libertarians would love to see Israel devoured by Islam.
    So, I simply can't get too excited about a man who wants amnesty and voted for Chuck Hagel and who lies.
    He said he had to support the presidents choices and so voted for Hagel. But then, if I am correct, he did NOT subsequently vote for Brennan.
    Rand Paul is a faker. Sadly, some people are so dispirited that they have transferred their need for faith in someone or something onto him.

  • gsr

    He was/is pathetic on the topic of immigration. Illegaal aliens, all 20 million need to be deported. Period. Nothing else to say about it. Rand is showing himself to be an idiot just like his pappy Ron.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "But Rand Paul refuses to say either one. Instead he complains that defining what he means is “polarizing” and “unproductive”."

    Slimy weasel politicians that drag the debate out with vague language tend to polarize the debate without leading to resolution. Polarization is not bad as long as we can decide and move on. The kind of consensus politicians (looking to ride the "wave of consensus" so greater heights" tend to want is rarely possible, especially these days.

    They all seem to be delusional most of the time.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, you want to know how to the left Hispanics really are on some issues compared to whites. Take Los Angeles a place where even few whites vote Republican but there was a sales tax. The white Democratics voted against if while the Hispanics supported it. Mayor Villagosha bad with the spelling of his name, sorry folks noted that immirgant Hisapanics supported the sales tax more than second and third. Third generation the least among Hispanics whle the wealthier whites supposed it and it went down in defeat. Also, prop 30 in Ca was supported by Hispanics, blacks and Asians while whites barely supported it.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, Republicans like Paul, Rubio and Ryan keep native wages low in construcaiton work which native born would do unlike farmwork but Rand, Rubio and Ryan will state about illegals in farmwork and there is actually a lot more in construcation. The minimum wage laws could be changed to allowed more minors or young adults to wokr. A liberal state could have a 5 per hr for minors 17 and lower and the current minimum for adults. A conservative state could get rid of the minimum for miors and those up to 18 to 21 depending upon the state. I don't see the minimum wage giong since its been around along time and thought of as apple pie but getting rid of it for teens and in some states for young adults who tehse days live with their parents up to at least 23 years old will allowed them to compete against illegal immirgants who are at times not paid at the minimum wage.

  • cynthia curran

    I mean the wealthy whites opposed the sales tax in La.

  • Jared Myers

    Okay. So what’s your alternative? ‘Cause let’s be honest — deporting 12 million people was never and is never going to happen. So we either leave them where they are, which is (as Rand says) de facto amnesty, or we force them to choose between becoming citizens or green-card workers and going home. What’s the choice?
    I don’t see where Rand is supporting amnesty, and I think the author has a WAY too broad meaning of the term.

    • danseio

      Deportation does not require house to house sweeps. Deportation can be achieved simply by enforcing the current law (cutting off state and federal benefits, enforcing immigration laws at workplace, etc). Don’t be so dramatic by arguing that deportation would require “evil” or “impossible” measures… it’s just dishonest.

      • Jared Myers

        That’s a great idea. I’m all for cutting off the Welfare State, and I DO think a lot of illegals would go home if that were to happen. I just don’t see where Rand Paul is supporting amnesty — in fact, the choices he’s offering are forcing the illegals to come out of the shadows and pay their dues (after securing the border), or buying a one-way ticket home. That’s not amnesty in my book, that’s reasonable enforcement. The way some folks are talking, however, is that unless Rand is in favor of the more hard-line stance of deportation, he’s somehow in favor of amnesty — when that’s clearly not the case.

        • http://www.ronlewenberg.com/ Ron Lewenberg

          No, Paul is calling for amnesty.

          • Jared Myers

            People keep saying that, but I have yet to see it.

  • wall71121

    While I agree that our immigration policy is “broken”, amnesty is not the right fix!
    If you doubt my assessment, just look at what happened to Eric Cantor over this issue.
    Rand, I like most of what you have to say, but I think you need to reconsider your position on amnesty.