In fact, Paul opposed the Senate immigration reform bill even after it was amended to include a border “surge” amendment, because he said the amendment — which Sen. John McCain said would give the U.S. the “most militarized border” since the Berlin Wall — didn’t go far enough. As the bill was being debated, Paul also played into right-wing fears by claiming that undocumented immigrants were being given greater rights than American citizens.
In an interview with the anti-immigrant website WorldNetDaily yesterday, Paul’s spokesman Brian Darling insisted that while Paul appeared on a conference call with a conservative immigration reform group this week, he did not “advocate for the passage of anything.”
Darling also disputed a press release from the pro-immigration group, the Partnership for a New American Economy, which announced that Sen. Paul was “throwing his political weight behind an establishment lobby effort to get Congress to reform the country’s immigration system this year.”
He told WND that Paul’s staff “never approved any Partnership press release that said Rand Paul was going to push for immigration reform legislation this year, and we specifically asked them not to put that in any press release.”
So there you have it: Paul supports immigration reform with words, but won’t vote for a reform bill or propose one himself.
“Sen. Rand Paul never embraced amnesty on the call,” his office stated in an email. “Sen. Paul has never advocated for amnesty in any other forum and he voted against the Senate immigration bill.
“As a matter of fact, Sen. Paul offered an amendment on the immigration bill last year to strengthen border security by forcing annual votes in Congress before any benefits from the bill were authorized,” the statement said.
A press release issued by Partnership for a New American Economy announced Paul joined Norquist “to talk about immigration reform and the Senator’s ideas to strengthen border security, reform existing immigration laws for employers and attempt to find common ground on smaller immigration related matters.”
The Washington Times published a story Wednesday on the conference call with the headline “Rand Paul throws weight behind immigration reform effort.” The Times said Paul, on the heels of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning primary defeat, “on Wednesday waded deeper into an issue that has proved perilous to some of his GOP colleagues, throwing his political weight behind an establishment lobby effort to get Congress to reform the country’s immigration system this year.”
Brian Darling, a spokesman for Paul, told WND the Times story mischaracterized Paul’s position.
“He didn’t go on any call to advocate for the passage of anything,” Darling said. “He was just there to talk about his views on the issue, which he’s talked about a million times before.”
Darling told WND the Partnership for a New American Economy had sent a version of its press release to him, and it was supposed to be changed.
“The one I saw was totally different from the Partnership’s press release that I approved,” he said. “I did see one version of it, and the version they published is different. The version that said Rand Paul was on the call to push for immigration reform this year was not approved. Not only was it not approved, we flagged that and told them, do not publish that in any press release.”
He said Paul’s office “never approved any Partnership press release that said Rand Paul was going to push for immigration reform legislation this year, and we specifically asked them not to put that in any press release.”