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Where Does Ron Paul Really Stand on Immigration?

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I have to admit to not agreeing with Ron Paul 100% on every issue, and one area where I sometimes question his positions is immigration.  I feel like he habitually comes up short when it comes to offering real solutions to immigration issues.  He’s pretty clear on what he doesn’t support, but not so clear about how he would actually form a positive immigration policy.  This probably comes from having been a one man minority for so long and never having any expectation that his legislation would ever see the light of day.  That might change in the mext couple of years with more Liberty Republicans in office.

Nonetheless, the lack of some fully defined positions on immigration doesn’t justify the gratuitous slam directed at him in NumbersUSA’s recent ranking of the presidential candidates.  Admittedly, Numbers USA is a hardcore nativist and protectionist group who I suspect would secretly like to round up all non-white people and deport them even if they are citizens.  That’s still no excuse for grossly misrepresenting Dr. Paul’s record and views in a way which suggests a general attack out of other motives rather than just assessing him negatively on their issues.  If immigration is your one official issue you ought to be able to do better with it than they do ranking Paul.

Their recent attack on Paul takes the form of downgrading his rating on their immigration-related issues from a C- to an F, putting him barely ahead of President Obama’s F-. The problem is that some of their criticisms of Paul don’t actually square with his record and past statements and they even misinterpret statements in his recent book Liberty Defined. Perhaps in response to this critique Paul went on the Jon Stossel show and clarified his positions, repeating statements which he has been making for years and which are well documented.

In their Consumer Reports style ratings, NumbersUSA ranks Paul as “Bad” on Amnesty. Their position is total opposition to amnesty in any form. Yet that has also been Paul’s position for years. He made it clear on the Stossel show and in a 2007 presidential forum he said “I would not sign a bill like [comprehensive immigration reform], because it would be amnesty.” That has always been his position. How can that earn him their second worst rating on the issue?

They also give Paul their third worst rating of “Unhelpful” on Border Security, yet Paul voted for the construction of a border fence, the kind of spending he normally opposes on principle. They also rated him “Bad” on Reduce Overall Immigration, yet Paul supported cutting off visas for students from terrorist nations, voted to deport illegals who received hospital treatment, and has a 100% rating from FAIR on reducing immigration.

These low ratings in ares where Paul has a strong anti-immigration record suggest that NumbersUSA may be pursuing some sort of political agenda beyond their stated concerns about immigration. It’s like they were looking for ways to specifically hurt Paul with their constituency. This seems grossly unfair and you have to wonder what hidden agenda they are really pursuing. They seem more anti-liberty than they are anti-immigration. Perhaps they started from some faulty assumptions about Paul, but he really isn’t a doctrinaire open-borders style libertarian. His positions are much more traditionally consevative.

The other aspect of this is the question of whether a low rating from NumbersUSA is really such a bad thing. Their positions on immigration and related issues are so extreme that they are far outside of the norm for the Republican Party and the political right in general. It’s arguable that a low rating from NumbersUSA is a sign that you have some good sense on immigration issues. They may be trying to sink Paul unfairly, but that might end up helping him with the larger section of the population which doesn’t believe in draconian anti-immigrant policies.

Paul’s positions on immigration are mostly pretty sensible. He doesn’t have a comprehensive plan in mind, but he does oppose some of the worst ideas on the issue. He doesn’t like singling businesses out for excessive punishment if they employ illegals. He has a very sensible perspective on the fact that immigration is closely linked to the state of our economy and that there are benefits from immigration when the economy is strong and that immigrants go home and reduce their impact when the economy is weak. He’s also strongly opposed to excessive security measures like REAL-ID which would infringe the rights of US citizens.

Paul should probably rate about a D on NumbersUSA’s rankings if they were being fair, but I’m glad he doesn’t rank any higher than that. His position is moderate and sensible and theirs is not. Controlling immigration is important, but the approach promoted by NumbersUSA is extremist and deceptive. Implementing their ideas would be economically devastating. They even oppose legal immigration of skilled workers and they completely write off the need for low-skill labor and any benefits immigrants bring the economy.

Those for whom immigration is a major issue should look at NumbersUSA with skepticism and take the time to check out Ron Paul’s actual statements and how he has voted on the issue. Better to make up your own mind than to look to a source with such obvious biases and a suspect anti-liberty agenda.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • It’s going to take someone with the wisdom of Solomon–as well as his compassion– to find positions on immigration that are fair and humane to ALL parties involved.

    You know, Dave Nalle, if I were a conspiracy theorist, *I’d* say there’s a conspiracy against Ron Paul.

  • Jacob R.

    Irene: I might agree, lol. And the way that they sort of almost slandered Ron Paul in that article, it makes me wonder if Obama, who had an F-, isn’t so bad! I haven’t check his stuff out (and I’m guess it doesnt’ attack the issue of benefits or birthright citizenship), but it might not be as bad as I thought either. I actually tried to post a comment on thier site, and it wouldn’t let me, so I had to send it to the adminastrators. I said basically the same thing that the author did here. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re totally misconstruing this. Paul is just trying to find an answer that is constitutional, humane and effective. Easier said than done. So the fact that he gets and F on here doesn’t mean that he isn’t doing a good job, it just means that these guys are in support of inhumane, unconstitutional or ineffective policies.”

  • Angelo P.

    The reason Ron Paul may have a bit of trouble formulating a concrete plan for immigration is because, in reality he is not against immigration per se`. The only ‘problem’ we have with immigration is the welfare and other social programs that illegal immigrants can take advantage of without paying into taxes (although they do sort of pay with lower wages and less protection under the law). The other reason this topic is so volatile is because some of the biggest lobbies (Unions) hate having immigration because it undermines the special privileges they have weaseled out of Washington. End the welfare programs that can get abused and the special privileges of unions and it won’t matter how many people come to this country, as long as they don’t break the law.

  • I think Angelo hits it on the head there, but I didn’t want to come right out and say that in the article.

    BTW, since I wrote this I was encouraged to research the people and groups behind NumbersUSA. This is way worse than I thought. They’re downright creepy. Not right-wing nativists as I suspected, but globalist ZPG types who want to exterminate the lesser races. Really nasty folks.


  • George Washington

    If I may,
    To feel that change that Obama was talking about…Please consider truly looking into, past the comment sections, the issues Dr. Paul presents.
    I beg you to please think about each issue and what he is presenting.
    America needs reasonable elements to fully nurture a, not only strong economy, but a strong dollar as well. All while increasing civil liberties. How rare to actually have a politician who does what he says and will/does work toward the USA’s national interests.
    Constitutionally, legislatively, and morally, Ron Paul has no equal. His 22 year voting record speaks for itself. The World is watching. Ron Paul for President in 2012.
    Thank You

  • George Washington

    Constitutionally, legislatively, and morally, Ron Paul has no equal. His 22 year voting record speaks for itself.
    Mr. Paul has not survived in politics for 22 years and maintain the ethics and morality he has by being anything other than stellar.
    If You refute the above comment, then I please invite You to listen to him speak about key issues. It is amazing how well he comes across because he doesn’t have to remember lies like other politicians. He understands what is happening in the world and knows how to apply the basic principles of liberty to achieve the real change that America so desperately deserves.
    American to American we are all on the same team. So I present Mr. Ron Paul as my Candidate for 2011 and invite anybody to meaningfully and respectfully debate why he is not the best for American and its people in 2012.
    Ron Paul = A real change, not for special interest, but for America’s Interests!
    Thank You for Your time
    Ron Paul 2012