Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed a pair of measures that move backwards on immigrant rights in an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart News Thursday. During a medical mission in Guatemala, Paul stated his support for a bill that would expedite the deportation process of child arrivals at the southern border and another measure to cut funding to President Obama’s program that grants temporary legal presence to some undocumented immigrants.
Paul said, “I’m supportive of the House bill and I think it will go a long way to fixing the problem. But like everything else, nothing good has happened because Sen. Reid has decided that he’s not going to allow any votes on any bills this year because he’s protecting his members who are vulnerable in the election — he’s protecting them from any kind of votes. So I think there’s a very good chance the House bill could pass in the Senate, but it won’t ever pass if it doesn’t ever see the light of day.”
Before it broke for August recess, the House passed two bills that would fast-track the deportation process of mostly Central American children arrivals, who have been apprehended at the southern U.S. border and another one to cease expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. That program has granted work authorization and temporary deportation reprieve to some undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers.
Earlier this month, Paul awkwardly avoided two undocumented immigrants and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), stating that he was “not interested in being filmed and berated by people who broke the law and are here illegally to try and convince me about policy.” His comment sparked outrage from immigration advocates who called him out for being “no different than far-right Republicans like Steve King.”
Erika Andiola — one of the two immigrants that Paul avoided — told ThinkProgress on Friday that she had hoped that Paul would learn from Mitt Romney’s loss, “but come 2016, he will realize that the Latino and immigrant electorate doesn’t forget.”
Yet at the same time that Paul is urging Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring the pair of House bills to a vote in the Senate, Democrats have been trying since last year to get House Republicans to bring an immigration reform bill that could fix the broken immigration system.
Paul, who has touted himself as an outspoken champion for GOP minority outreach, once stated that legalization should “start with DREAM Act kids,” alluding to a federal immigration bill that would have granted an earned pathway to citizenship for some qualified undocumented immigrants. He also empathized with undocumented immigrants in the past, but he has since gradually moved faster and further away from that position. Paul has stated that he would not support the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill and accusing the President Obama of “poisoning the well” by using an executive order to create the DACA program.