Rand Paul Will Support Path To Citizenship

The 2016 presidential contender warns that Latino exodus from GOP “says more about Republicans than it does Hispanics.”

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, March 14, 2013. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday Sen. Rand Paul will urge conservatives to abandon their long-standing opposition to a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers in the United States, bluntly warning that to not do so, Republicans “will need to resign ourselves to permanent minority status,” according to excerpts of a Tuesday speech obtained by BuzzFeed.

In a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit, Paul will lay out his case for a conservative, and Republican, embrace of comprehensive reform.

“The Republican Party has insisted for years that we stand for freedom and family values. I am most proud of my party when it stands for both … Republicans need to give birth to a new attitude toward immigrants, an attitude that sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities,” Paul will say, according to excerpts of the speech.

Like many Republicans who back a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Paul argues Latinos should be a natural wellspring of GOP votes that the party has increasingly abandoned.

“Hispanics should be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base. That they have steadily drifted away from the GOP in each election says more about Republicans than it does Hispanics,” Paul will say, arguing, “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.”

Although Paul has long been supportive of comprehensive reform that includes some form of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, Tuesday’s speech represents his most detailed comments on the topic.

“Those who work for reform must understand that a real solution must ensure that our borders are secure. It must modernize our immigration controls and databases. It must allow for as much legal immigration as our workforce requires. And it must treat those who are already here with understanding and compassion — without also unduly rewarding them for coming illegally,” Paul will say.

“We should be proud that so many want to come to America, that it is still seen as the land of opportunity. Let’s make it a land of legal work, not black-market jobs. Let’s make it a land of work, not welfare. Our land should be one of assimilation, not hiding in the shadows.”

Paul also will take on many of the talking points used by conservative opponents of comprehensive reform. For instance, Paul will outright dismiss claims that undocumented immigrants have become a drain on the nation’s welfare system, saying, “I’ve never met a new immigrant looking for a free lunch.”

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