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Ron Paul on Immigration

Republican Congressman Shapes Policy With Libertarian Beliefs


Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, approaches immigration policy with a libertarian philosophy that makes him one of the favorites of the Tea Party.

Paul has a simple, straightforward plan for securing U.S. borders: Bring all the nation’s military troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and then station as many as needed along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“A nation without borders is no nation at all,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense to fight terrorists abroad while leaving our front door unlocked.”

During a 2011 debate in Iowa, Paul said the government should “pay a lot less attention to the borders between Iraq and Pakistan and bring our troops home and protect our borders. Why do we protect our borders overseas when we don’t protect our borders at home?”

Paul has also said he would enlist the help of private landowners along the border to assist the government in providing security. However, he opposes building a border fence because he thinks it would restrict the movement of Americans and not do enough to restrict illegal migrants from Mexico.

Paul believes the federal government has compounded its failure to secure borders by shifting more enforcement responsibilities to the states and putting more restrictions on the civil liberties of individual Americans. For example, Paul believes the REAL ID law to standardize the nation’s driver licenses is unconstitutional.

“While the federal government neglects its constitutional responsibility to protect our borders,” he says, “ it continues to push mandates to provide free education and medical care to illegal immigrants at a time when the states are drowning in debt.”

Paul opposes the federal E-Verify system that forces employers to check the immigration status of their workers through a national database. He believes businesses should not be involved in preventing illegal workers from getting jobs. That is a federal responsibility, he says.

“I don’t like putting the burden on our business people to be policemen,” Paul said during a debate in Iowa in August 2011. “If an illegal comes into our country and a church helps them and feeds them, we don’t blame the church.” Paul voted against the DREAM Act when it came up in the U.S. House in December 2010. He opposes the idea of the government giving educational benefits to the children of illegal immigrants.

Paul has opposed the Obama administration’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform because he believes it includes an amnesty provision that would allow illegal immigrants a path to legal residency. He says, “Granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants will only encourage more lawbreaking.”

In his book, Liberty Defined, however, Paul concedes that the government might need to grant some sort of provisional status because deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is not feasible. He suggested a “green card with an asterisk” as a better alternative than granting citizenship or deportation.

Like his Republican primary opponent Newt Gingrich, Paul has said he opposes splitting up the families and deporting illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for many years.  “It would be incompatible with human rights,” he wrote in his book.

For many years, Paul has been an outspoken critic of birthright citizenship, the provision in the U.S. Constitution that gives automatic citizenship to children born in the United States, no matter how they came here or what the status of their parents is. He says he is willing to consider amending the Constitution to stop turning infants into citizens.

“As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be granted U.S. citizenship,” he says, “we’ll never be able to control our immigration problem.”

However, Paul opposes changing the Constitution to allow people born in other countries to serve as president.  He also has voted for legislation that would make English the nation’s “official” language.

Paul has said he has “reservations” about immigration laws passed by state legislatures in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and others. But he has said he is sympathetic to their intent and to the frustration states have over the federal government’s failure to make U.S. immigration policy work.

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