Rand Paul is OK with illegal immigrants being able to obtain citizenship eventually, and he would even make it easier by tweaking current rules and not requiring them to return to their home country first. But he doesn't want anyone to call that a "path to citizenship," a phrase AP used in a headline last night, along with "pathway to citizenship" in its text. The AP used the language after looking at an advance copy of a speech Paul gave today to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and it stands by the terminology, reports Politico. Paul points out that he never used the word "citizenship" in his speech. “I think the whole debate on immigration is trapped in a couple of words: path to citizenship and amnesty,” he tells the Post Politics blog of the Washington Post. “Can’t we just have reform and not refer to them by names?” The blog adds later: "Paul’s advisers say there is little difference between the current law and what Paul is proposing, at least when it comes to citizenship."
Others weighing in:
- Benjy Sarlin, Talking Points Memo: "The plan Paul laid out in his afternoon call sounded identical in principle to plans put forward by a group of bipartisan senators and by the White House, both of which contain a so-called 'path to citizenship' that would allow illegal immigrants here today to obtain green cards (after meeting certain conditions) and eventually naturalize."
- Erick Erickson, RedState: "Feel free to disagree with Senator Paul if you must. Just don’t claim he’s pursuing a path to citizenship he never even mentioned."
- Kevin Robillard, Politico: "In a conference call that Paul held with reporters later in the day, it became clear that differences between the senator’s plan and the conventional definition of a path to citizenship were few, if they existed at all."
- Erica Werner in the AP's latest story: Paul said "the nation's illegal immigrants should be able to become citizens eventually, but amid a furor from conservative activists on the explosive issue he quickly sought to make clear that, while they would not be sent home, they couldn't get in line in front of anyone else."
- Paul himself on his plan: "Basically what I want to do is to expand the worker visa program, have border security and then as far as how people become citizens, there already is a process for how people become citizens. The main difference is I wouldn’t have people be forced to go home. You’d just get in line. But you get in the same line everyone is in."