Erica Werner of the Associated Press gives us a textbook example of why talking about immigration in the United States is so hard. She reads into statements things that are not there.
The headline of her article is “Rand Paul endorses immigrant path to citizenship.” Giving her the benefit of the doubt that someone else wrote the headline, her first paragraph reads thusly:
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is telling a Hispanic business group that illegal immigrants should be allowed to become U.S. taxpayers and ultimately get a shot at citizenship.
I have read the entirety of Rand Paul’s speech. I have spoken directly to the Senator.
No where in his speech does he use the word “citizenship.” In fact, the word citizen is only used once, in reference to Rand Paul himself saying, “As a teenager, I was not always the model citizen that I am today.”
But Erica Werner takes his speech and reads it as calling for citizenship. This is the problem with the immigration conversation in America.
Rand Paul is not calling for citizenship. He says, in his speech, and no doubt what confused Erica Werner,
It would also enable us to let more people in and allow us to admit we are not going to deport the millions of people who are currently here illegally.
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.
But in the overall context, which I confirmed with the Senator directly, he is talking about fixing the guest worker program, not giving citizenship.
Senator Paul and I both recognize there is a need for an unskilled worker program in this nation. He grew up in Texas, where the Braceros program was popular until killed off by labor unions upset that immigrants might be taking jobs in the fields the unions could do at higher prices.
Senator Paul wants to fix the visa program. The visa program for migrant workers and low skilled workers coming into the country is cumbersome, slow, and silly. It could be reformed, coupled with serious concurrent reforms to border security to make sure people are actually going through the program, instead of just crossing the border like they do now.
Getting people out of the shadows, paying taxes, and tracking their immigration into and emigration out of the United States is a good starting point for immigration reform. It’s where Senator Paul is headed.
It’s not a pathway to citizenship. That’s how Erica Werner interpreted it. It’s just making illegal aliens, legal aliens.
Feel free to disagree with Senator Paul if you must. Just don’t claim he’s pursuing a path to citizenship he never even mentioned.