Rand Paul said Tuesday at a meeting between conservative lawmakers and Hispanic media that Republicans need to show that they are not “just the party of deportation.”
Speaking a symposium at Washington, D.C.’s Newseum, the Kentucky senator said that in order to connect with Latino voters, Republicans need to move past deportation.
“We got to get beyond deportation to get to the rest of the issues,” Paul said.
The event launched the Media Research Center's MRC Latino, the first Spanish-language media watchdog.
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“The bottom line is that the Hispanic community, the Latino community, is not going to hear us until we get beyond that issue," he said. "They’re not going to care whether we go to the same church or have the same values or believe in the same kind of future of the country until we get beyond that. So showing up helps. But you got to show up and you got to say something and it’s has to be different than what we’ve been saying.”
The potential 2016 presidential contender used the occasion to speak frankly about his party’s alienating opposition to immigration reform.
“I think the other thing to acknowledge is it’s not always the individual’s fault. Sometimes it’s a child that has no control over this. But sometimes, it’s also somebody who came here and tried to use our system.”
“I think one way to get the door ajar is say that you know, Mrs. Garcia’s nephew is not going to be sent home to Mexico,” Paul said. “You know, because everybody — even those who are here illegally — know somebody who is here who doesn’t have the proper visa.”
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He also pointed to flaws in the sprawling visa system — a point that speaks to Republicans who claim to want to limit the size of the state.
“Forty percent of those who are here of the 11 million who don’t have the proper documents,” Paul said. “Forty percent of them came with the proper documents and then somehow lost their documentation.”
The senator said that immigration reform bill doesn’t change the fact that some immigrants’ status changes from authorized to unauthorized when they take a different job — one of the reasons, he said, he voted against the bill last year.
“You become an illegal alien by taking a better paying job,” Paul said. “That has to be addressed. If you don’t address that, you’ll continue to have an illegal immigration problem.”