Senator Who Espoused Anti-Immigration Views Says Party Must Move ‘Beyond Deportations’

CREDIT: Esther Y. Lee

GOP Do You Want Our Vote Immigration Rally

CREDIT: ThinkProgress/ Esther Y. Lee

According to a senator who has a history of advocating anti-immigration legislation, the Republican Party must move “beyond deportation” in order to reach out to the Latino community. While introducing the first ever Spanish-language media watchdog called Media Research Center Latino, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Tuesday that Hispanic voters “are not going to hear us until we get beyond that issue.”

“They’re not going to care whether we go to the same church or have the same values or believe in the same kind of future of our country until we get beyond that,” Paul said, according to Politico. “Showing up helps, but you got to show up and you got to say something, and it has to be different from what we’ve been saying …there is not the perception of empathy coming from the Republican Party that we care about where they’re coming from and we care about what their problems are.”

He added, “The other thing to acknowledge is, it’s not always the individual’s fault. Sometimes it’s a child who has no control over this. But sometimes it’s also someone who came here and tried to use our system.”

Although this is not the first time that Paul has called for the Republican Party to reach out to minorities, he has yet to helped to move along issues that could move Republicans “beyond deportations.” Last year, he voted against the Senate’s immigration bill, criticizing the legislation for not securing the border first and saying that he doesn’t trust the Obama administration to “make a valid judgement” on whether the border can really be secure. And before he was elected in 2011, Paul called the federal DREAM Act, which would have permanently stopped deportations for undocumented youths brought to the country as children, the “Washington elitists’ roundabout way of giving amnesty to illegal immigrant students and undermining the rule of law.” In 2010, Paul supported Arizona’s harsh anti-immigration law, advocating for local law enforcement officials to check for legal status, one way that could land undocumented immigrants in the hands of federal immigration officials. In 2011, Paul co-sponsored legislation with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that would end the constitutional right to birthright citizenship. And in 2010 and in 2012, Paul struck a hardline saying that he didn’t “support amnesty” and that he supported “making English the official language of all documents and contracts.”

The lack of empathy for immigrants goes beyond Paul. Even after the Republican National Committee published a so-called autopsy report of the GOP’s 2012 election loss, Congressional Republicans have done a poor job of building bridges. A few key highlights of that botched outreach strategy include saying that immigrants come from a more violent civilization, calling the Senate immigration bill “calculated and cold-blooded,” brushing off children and teenagers whose parents are in deportation proceedings, and making absolutely no mention of immigration reform in a video for Hispanic Heritage Month.