Rand Paul’s amnesty speech before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was a pastiche of establishment cliches. Permit me to select some and respond:Rand Paul official portrait 112th Congress alternate

Growing up in Texas I never met a Latino who wasn’t working.

While this kind of flattery is expected when politicians pander to any kind of group, in this case it’s not true. The latest data show that 65.4 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics over age 16 have a job, and 68.4 percent of Hispanic immigrants (legal and illegal) do, compared with 69.3 percent for the country as a whole. That’s not a difference worth getting excited about one way or the other, but it does show that Hispanics are regular people, not toiling supermen.

Republicans have been losing both the respect and votes of a group of people who already identify with our belief in family, faith, and conservative values. Hispanics should be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base.

Oy vey. Hispanics are more negative about capitalism, and more positive about socialism, than even supporters of Occupy Wall Street. By almost four-to-one, Hispanics prefer bigger government over smaller government. Sixty-two percent of Hispanics support Obamacare. The majority support gay marriage. Among the U.S.-born (who make up the large majority of Hispanic voters), 40 percent use welfare and 45 percent have no federal income-tax liability. Outreach is important, but can we finally retire the notion that there’s a conservative Republican inside every Hispanic voter just waiting to come out if only the GOP backs amnesty?

About his ancestors, Senator Paul said:

In their home and their church they spoke German. Republicans who criticize the use of two languages make a great mistake.

The problem is not use of two languages. It’s the official use of two languages, and the utter lack of diversity in the immigration flow, creating the unprecedented situation where a majority of immigrants speak a single language, increasingly making Spanish a co-official language with English. That way lies Quebec, or worse.

Many have faced intolerance and bigotry. It was not always easy to be German American in the face of two world wars started by Germans. Intolerance is not new, and it is not limited to one language or skin color.

Unbelievable. The victimology craze has reached the point where someone of partly German ancestry can proudly boast that he, too, knows the sting of prejudice. Who’s next, Episcopalians? They were hassled by the Puritans in colonial Massachusetts, you know.

I’ve never met a new immigrant looking for a free lunch.

This betrays an almost childlike lack of acquaintance with reality. Most immigrants using welfare also work. In fact, our welfare system is designed to subsidize the working poor who have children, which is a good approximation of the average Latin American immigrant. And we do almost nothing to bar or remove immigrants using welfare.

The Republican Party must embrace more legal immigration.

This is at least coherent, but wrong-headed. A post-industrial, knowledge-based economy with a well-developed welfare state and a multiculturalist, anti-assimilationist elite, does not benefit from more immigration. Someonewrote a book about this, if I recall. What’s more, Senator Paul just a few months ago said the trade-off for amnesty should be “not to accept any new legal immigrants while we’re assimilating the ones who are here.” To go from an immigration moratorium to open borders in the space of four months is a real accomplishment.

Unfortunately, like many of the major debates in Washington, immigration has become a stalemate-where both sides are imprisoned by their own rhetoric or attachment to sacred cows that prevent the possibility of a balanced solution.

(My emphasis.) Now he’s getting his talking points from Obama? A “balanced solution” on immigration will work out the same as on the budget; just as future spending cuts promised in return for present tax hikes never happen, future enforcement in return amnesty today will never happen. Spending cuts — and enforcement — first.

Let’s start that conversation by acknowledging we aren’t going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants.

I’m sorry, who’s proposed that?

If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you.

This comes after a reference to illegals, so might be referring to them, but they already “live and work in America” — that’s the whole point. But if, as his advocacy for ever-more immigration suggests, he’s referring to people who aren’t here yet, then we’re approaching libertarian kookiness. Gallup reports that 150 million people want to move to the United States, and once they get here, scores of millions of their relatives will also want to do so. There is no practical limit to the number of people who would move here based on market forces, so we have to impose one.

This is where prudence, compassion and thrift all point us toward the same goal: bringing these workers out of the shadows and into being taxpaying members of society. Imagine 12 million people who are already here coming out of the shadows to become new taxpayers.12 million more people assimilating into society. 12 million more people being productive contributors.

Jeez, immigration speeches are just a matter of Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. Illegals aren’t in the “shadows”, they’re lobbying Congress and appearing on TV. Illegals already pay taxes; it’s just that they’re so unskilled and thus earn so little money that they are inevitably net costs to taxpayers (and the sum of those costs would increase with amnesty). And the lack of assimilation isn’t caused by illegality, it’s caused by government race laws and affirmative action and big-city school systems (that most immigrant kids attend) that teach students to be embarrassed about America.

My plan will not grant amnesty or move anyone to the front of the line.

I’d have a lot more respect for someone who just came out and said, “look, of course it’s amnesty, and I don’t like it any more than you do, but we’re stuck having to clean up the mess our predecessors left us.”

But what we have now is de facto amnesty.

Sure it is, because Senator Paul’s amnesty ally, President Obama, has downgraded immigration violations to a secondary offense, like not buckling your seat belt, meaning that only those who violate a “real” law face possible deportation.

The solution doesn’t have to be amnesty or deportation-a middle ground might be called probation where those who came illegally become legal through a probationary period.

I love this — the “middle ground” between deportation and amnesty is a different kind of amnesty. This is like saying the middle ground between my offer for a car and the salesman’s price is my offer, but I’ll pay by check instead of credit card.

My plan will not impose a national ID card or mandatory E-Verify, forcing businesses to become policemen.

Even Democrats understand that immigration enforcement is literally impossible without giving employers a tool to distinguish between honest people and liars. This really is a recipe for open borders.

We should not be unfair to those who came to our country legally.

It’s not those who “came to our country legally” who get screwed by amnesty, though of course they’re exposed as suckers for having obeyed the law. It’s those honorably waiting abroad who really get the shaft, because illegals jumped the line to get into the U.S. and are rewarded for their lawbreaking by being permitted to stay.

Nor should we force business owners to become immigration inspectors-making them do the job the federal government has failed to do.

Business owners are just making sure the people they hire aren’t lying to them. If Senator Paul wants to abolish Social Security, the income tax, and the entirety of labor law, that’s a coherent stance to take. But you can’t honestly leave all that in place but say that employers, in filing the standard paperwork for a new hire, shouldn’t have to check to make sure they’re not being lied to.

After an Inspector General has verified that the border is secure after year one, the report must come back and be approved by Congress. In year two, we could begin expanding probationary work visas to immigrants who are willing to work. I would have Congress vote each year for five years whether to approve or not approve a report on whether or not we are securing the border.

I don’t even know what this means. I guess once the border (meaning the whole immigration system, including airports, land crossings, the entire visa process, etc.) is secure, all the illegals would get their amnesty, and then Congress would vote again every year for five more years. But if they vote no, then what? Would the “probationary work visas” be revoked? Maybe in some alternative universe, but not here in the real world. So basically, his plan is the same as the Schumer-Rubio amnesty.

Senator Paul amassed a lot of political capital with his filibuster, even among people who don’t fully agree with him on the drone issue, or foreign policy in general. But I’m afraid he’s just dissipated a lot of that good will with this embarrassing, amateurish foray into a policy area he knows nothing about.


The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization. Since our founding in 1985, we have pursued a single mission – providing immigration policymakers, the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens with reliable information about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States.