En casa del herrero, cuchara de palo.
It seems Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), doubling down on his message of GOP reform, is the wooden spoon in the blacksmith’s house. The Senator is pushing an immigration message unlike that of many of his Republican cohorts: Paul’s idea is more amnesty than deportation, but he is calling it “probation.”
Yesterday morning, Paul was welcomed to speak on the topic of immigration reform by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Senator’s speech, peppered with passages in Spanish and even a reference to poet Pablo Neruda to underline the beauty of Hispanic romanticism, pushed a libertarian-leaning approach to solving America’s immigration problems.
“The solution doesn’t have to be amnesty or deportation,” Paul said during the speech. “A middle ground might be called probation, where those who came illegally become legal through a probationary period. My plan will not impose a national ID card or mandatory E-Verify, forcing businesses to become policemen. We should not be unfair to those who came to our country legally. Nor should we force business owners to become immigration inspectors–making them do the job the federal government has failed to do. 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.”
Paul also pointed out a disconnect in his speech between the Republican Party’s traditionally harsh language on immigration and Hispanic American citizens with social beliefs regarding spirituality, abortion and family structure that are much in line with the GOP stance.
“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,” he said. “That they have steadily drifted away from the GOP in each election says more about Republicans than it does about Hispanics.”
The Senator likened the “hard work, respect for life or the quest for freedom” that many modern immigrants bring to the Nation to those characteristics of immigrants of the past, to whom many Americans can trace their family roots.
“Defense of the unborn and defense of traditional marriage are Republican issues that should resonate with Latinos but have been obscured by the misperception that Republicans are hostile to immigrants,” Paul continued. “Somewhere along the line Republicans have failed to understand and articulate that immigrants are an asset to America, not a liability.”
Paul’s aptly timed speech was given on the heels of a Republican National Committee report released earlier in the week calling on members of the GOP to support comprehensive immigration reform. A bipartisan group of Senators is also nearing agreement on sweeping legislation to overhaul the Nation’s immigration laws, a bill Paul says he might support after some amendment.
“Let’s start that conversation by acknowledging we aren’t going to deport” the millions already here, he said during his speech.
Paul said that his immigration reform plan would require the lynchpin of first securing the U.S. border before any steps to implement a path to citizenship would be taken. Under the plan, the Border Patrol and an inspector general would have to testify that borders were locked down tight. Congress would then annually verify that border security was progressing for five years in order for the other reforms Paul envisions to remain in place.
In the Senator’s opinion, America should do away with schemes that place the burdensome responsibility of verification of citizenship on business owners. Instead, those in the country illegally would begin to be issued temporary work visas after waiting in line behind those already in the system working toward citizenship. The number of visas available per year would be determined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, and immigrant job creators and entrepreneurs would be issued special visas.
“My plan will not grant amnesty or move anyone to the front of the line. But what we have now is de facto amnesty,” Paul said of current immigration reform gridlock.
The Senator concluded his speech by telling the audience of his respect and admiration for Latinos.
“Some say to generalize about any ethnic group is to be a racist,” Paul said. “There is a hilarious ‘Seinfeld’ episode where Jerry admits that he loves Asian women, but he frets and worries: ‘Is it racist to like a certain race?’
“So it is with trepidation that I express my admiration for the romance of the Latin culture.”
Toward the end of his speech, Paul quoted part of the the closing passage of Neruda’s poem “Si Tu Me Olividas,” the English translation of which is “If You Forget Me.”:
si cada día, (if each day,)
cada hora, (each hour)
sientes que a mí estás destinada (you feel that you are destined for me)
con dulzura implacable, (with implacable sweetness)
si cada día sube (if each day a flower)
una flor a tus labios a buscarme, (climbs up to your lips to seek me)
ay amor mío, ay mía, (ah my love, ah my own)
en mí todo ese fuego se repite, (in me all that fire is repeated)
en mí nada se apaga ni se olvida (in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten)