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Does Rand Paul Support Amnesty? Yes

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On March 20, 2013 @ 11:27 am In The Point | 33 Comments

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.


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