There’s nothing unusual about Republicans denouncing illegal immigration. But a GOP senator attacking immigrants who come to this country legally to work and study is something new. According to the New York Times, that’s exactly what Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) did today during a Homeland Security Committee hearing. Sen. Paul specifically went after immigrant students, who he called our “would-be attackers”:
“We have 40,000 students coming to this country from all over the world,” he said. “Are they would-be attackers?”
Speaking at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on border patrol corruption, Mr. Paul on Thursday questioned whether the government was adequately screening and then keeping tabs on those who enter the country with student visas or as refugees.[…]
But while Mr. Paul said he worried about legal immigrants, he was not concerned about the potential threat from American citizens.
“We’ve done so many things to think that we’re all terrorists, that universally we have to scrutinize everybody to the Nth degree instead of doing what I just think would be good police work,” Mr. Paul said, adding that it would be less expensive and less intrusive to privacy if the country looked at “the people who did attack us and who continue to attack us, and not really U.S. citizens.”
Paul’s latest attack on immigrants is only the latest example of the so-called libertarian’s disdain for civil liberties. Paul has advocated stripping many Americans of their constitutional right to citizenship, and he once suggested that the U.S. wouldn’t even need laws if all citizens were Christians. As ThinkProgress reported, he recently called for jailing people who attend “radical political speeches.”
The senator’s selective focus on immigrants also betrays his own ignorance about the threats facing this country. At today’s hearing, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Alan D. Bersin cautioned Paul against dismissing the threat posed by homegrown terrorists. After all, Bersin pointed out, the man accused of trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square last year was a U.S. citizen. Additionally, attacking refugees who flee persecution in their own countries and jump through countless legal hoops to receive asylum in the United States is a particularly baseless (not to mention heartless) concern.