Rand Paul: “We Need to Not Be Anti-Immigrant”

Sen. Rand Paul (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sen. Rand Paul (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Speaking on an Arizona radio show yesterday, Senator Rand Paul was asked to comment on his approach to immigration policy.  Sen. Paul reiterated the importance of border security but also expressed support for an improved work visa program:

I think something has to be done.  If you aren’t for doing any kind of immigration reform, you’re for another 10 or 11 million people coming in unaccounted for.  Milton Friedman once said you can’t have open borders and a welfare state.  We’ve kind of got both right now.  We have a completely open border, and we’ve got this enormous welfare state.  So you’ve got to stop one of them.

And so right now what we really need to do is secure the border.  We need to know who comes in, who leaves.  We need to make sure none of them are terrorists.  And then we have to control the border.  That’s part of it.

But I’m also in favor of a work visa program.  I’m in favor of people coming across to work.  Farmers in Kentucky use migrant labor, and they tell me that they advertise for Americans.  I had a farmer recently tell me he’s advertised for 30 years and never had one American apply for a job.  So we do need migrant labor, and there has to be some kind of compromise to come about on this.

He was then asked for his response to Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks on immigration and whether her stance would make it tougher for the GOP on the issue:

I think that the attitude needs to change in the Republican Party.  We need to not be anti-immigrant.  We don’t need to be perceived as a party that is against people that have come from Mexico or other countries.  You know, some of my best friends growing up, their parents had come from Mexico, and they came legally and they were some of my best friends growing up in Texas.  So there’s no problem with immigration on the Republican side.

What there is a problem with is the President doing things by executive order that really should require congressional action because when you break down the separation of powers and the branches are no longer coequal, this is really a recipe for, really, so much power gravitating to the executive or to the President that we lose the balance, the checks and balances that we were supposed to have in our Republic.

On the whole, this was a very positive showing for Sen. Paul, and exemplary perhaps for how Republicans ought to be handling the immigration issue moving forward.  He balanced calls for increased border security and criticism of the President’s executive orders with expressions of support for immigration in general and a proposal for a better guest worker program as an alternative to our current system.  Such an approach draws a much needed contrast with Democrats while also laying out a positive, conservative vision for immigration reform as well.

While he may not get much publicity for this interview, kudos to Sen. Paul for moving the debate in the right direction.  Gov. Walker may want to take notes.

Paul Dupont is a legislative assistant for American Principles in Action.