Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What everyone is saying about Rand Paul's immigration plan

After scouring the web like a rabid opossum without his contact lenses, I've compiled a list of conservative, liberal, mainstream, and special interest group reactions to Rand Paul's nebulous immigration plan.

Five things emerge:

1. No matter what he says, yes, his plan provides a pathway to citizenship.

2. Contrary to his ethos, it's not very libertarian.

3. Pro-immigration groups are thrilled.

4. The Tea Party is more divided on immigration than the stereotype would suggest. In fact, in true Tea Party spirit, it's impossible to say the Tea Party is for or against it.

5. The Gang of Eight's plan is more doable, and Paul's document is pure (but important) political positioning.


James Pethokoukis

1. James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute calls it a "missed opportunity" that's "overly bureaucratic."

While he wants more immigration, his path to legalization is more restrictionist than Marco Rubio’s path to citizenship for illegals. Plus it seems overly bureaucratic and political for a libertarian.

....Paul’s outspoken libertarian beliefs are really what make him interesting as a national political figure. His immigration plan seems like a missed opportunity to advance the argument.

AllahPundit's avatar

2. Hot Air's AllahPundit says "there's no earthly way" Rand would actually deny current illegal immigrants citizenship, and that his plan is a political maneuver.

This isn’t meant as a viable plan for the Senate, as Rubio’s is, but as a political document aimed at showing grassroots conservatives that he’s tougher on the legalization process than Rubio and at showing independents and Latino voters that he’s compassionate enough towards immigrants to want them to stay and work here as long as they want.

Jonah Goldberg (photo by Gage Skidmore)

3. The National Review's Jonah Goldberg also notes that Paul's plan doesn't sound very libertarian.

Paul’s newfound support for a path to citizenship has more in common with George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism than it does with doctrinaire libertarianism.

Sal Russo (photo:  Radio Patriot)

4. Sal Russo, chief adviser to the Tea Party Express, thinks it's a "political winner."

“I think his goal is to appeal to a broader audience.... Immigration is not a defining tea-party issue like spending and debt, and there is a wide spectrum of viewpoints on it. I think it’s a political winner.”

Conn Carroll

5. The Washington Examiner's Conn Carroll calls it an "amnesty plan" that's "worse than Rubio's."

Worse, unlike the Gang of Ocho amnesty plan endorsed by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Paul would force Republicans to play the role border-security-bad-guys every year

....Every year a majority of Republicans would vote to say the border was not secure and those who came to the country illegally should not continue down the path to citizenship. And every year every Democrat and a minority of Republicans would vote the opposite, allowing those who came illegally to advance down that path… until of course they are all sworn in as Democratic voters.

Mark Krikorian

6. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, savages it as a "pastiche of establishment cliches."

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.

.... 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.

Ben Shapiro

7. Breitbart's editor-at-large, Ben Shapiro, calls it "a step in the right direction."

Paul’s plan is significantly more focused on border security than the so-called Gang of Eight plan led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), an obvious contender for the 2016 nomination. It is also a step in the right direction.

Sarah Durand

8. Sarah Durand, president of the Louisville Tea Party, tells The Wall Street Journal:

"We have a lot of people who are very passionate on either side of the issue."

9. Reason's Editor in Chief, Matt Welch, likes that it, at least, breaks stereotypes of The Tea Party:

It is above all a political and positioning document, more than it is a policy proposal.... If nothing else, the exercise will complicate narratives that Paul and/or the Tea Party is reflexively hostile to immigrants, as evidenced by the fact that many journalists really really think so.

10. Radio host Hugh Hewitt, who supports immigration reform, nevertheless worries about the political consequence of overreach.

Republican office holders will face some furious blowback from a small number of voices for anything suggesting regularization, and that blowback will grow if the border security isn’t real and if citizenship is widely available under the plan. The opportunity to get immigration reform is here, but it can be gone in a moment if overreaching marks the proposals.

Pro-immigration Groups

Frank Sharry

Frank Sharry, executive director of pro-immigration group, America's Voice, tells The New York Times.

“Now you have the standard-bearer of the Tea Party saying that we should welcome undocumented immigrants as Americans.... it's one of the fastest turnarounds I've seen on any issue. It's mind-blowing.”

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Reform, tells Beth Reinhard.

"He killed it.... The more people like Senator Paul are engaged in the debate, the more the conversation moves forward. He has credibility with tea-party conservatives like no one else.”

Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, tells NBC Latino that it's "very powerful".

"I think it's huge.... Rand Paul is a constitutional conservative. Libertarians support him, and no one can say he's a RINO.... it's actually very powerful."


SEIU of Kentucky.

The GOP should heed Sen. Rand Paul’s words today and truly join the consensus that wants Congress to pass a bill that will create a just roadmap to citizenship, boost our economy and keep families together.

Steve Benen

Steve Benen, on Rachel Maddow's blog, says Paul is Playing Nothing But Pure Politics on the issue.

Paul wants to be part of a constructive policy solution, without getting yelled at by the far-right GOP base. No Profile in Courage Award for you, senator.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank says he'll "stand with Rand", albeit "nervously".

Paul said that Republicans, in “our zeal for border control,” have “sometimes obscured our respect and admiration for immigrants.” This was similar to his CPAC speech, in which he charged that “the GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered.”

It’s not yet clear how dedicated Paul really is to moss removal. But as long as he’s scrubbing, I’ll Stand with Rand.


Marco Rubio, on CNN:

“On Sen. Paul’s speech today, it’s a very good development."

Senator Chuck Schumer, on Inside City Hall.

"I think the bottom line is having Rand Paul come out for something not that far away from our group of eight is really helpful."

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions told reporters:

"I don't believe there's any moral or legal responsibility to reward somebody who entered your country illegally with every benefit that you give to somebody who enters legally."

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham:

"I applaud and appreciate @SenRandPaul support for a path to citizenship."

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) tells Politico:

"What Rand Paul says matters more to me than what the [RNC] says."

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MIS) tells Roll Call.

"What he says matters."