Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Rand Paul Could Be Key Player on Immigration

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Rand Paul Could Be Key Player on Immigration

Article excerpt

Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky hasn't been a major part of the immigration reform debate to this point.

But as the Senate begins to put a bipartisan immigration reform bill through the legislative process, he may be the chairman of what could be called the Getting to Yes Caucus: deeply conservative lawmakers who want to tweak the bill in order to bring more conservative support, not battering the measure with poison pill amendments in an effort to kill it.

"I am for immigration reform, I am for finding a place for those who are in our country, whether documented or undocumented, finding a place for them if they want to work," said Senator Paul at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday.

Paul acknowledged there are some in his party who simply won't be won over. One of those deeply opposed to the current immigration reform effort made his stance clear just hours after Paul spoke.

"As we explore [the bill's] many flaws and loopholes in the coming days, I am confident the American public will firmly reject it," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama in a statement.

Despite intractable opposition from those like Senator Sessions, Paul believes a convincing package of border security proposals could bring a larger group of Republican lawmakers into voting for a comprehensive fix to the immigration system.

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For his part, Paul said he would offer his "trust but verify" amendment to the current immigration bill. Under Paul's vision, Congress would vote to certify that the border was secure every year for five years before any of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country received permanent legal status (also known as a green card).

The current immigration reform law, offered Wednesday by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight," requires the Department of Homeland Security to achieve a 90 percent effectiveness rate at apprehending or deterring potential border crossers over the first five years after the bill is enacted. If that benchmark is not met, a slew of other requirements come into play over the next five years.

None of those currently in the country illegally are eligible for permanent residence until both the border security requirements are met and a decade has elapsed. …

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