Republican Senator Rand Paul called for the GOP to “embrace” immigrants during a speech given on Tuesday after the State of the Union (SOTU).
“We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities,” said Paul, giving a response for the Tea Party Express political group. “We must be the party that says, ‘If you want to work, if you want to be an American, we welcome you.’”
Paul also claimed, “We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future”.
The freshman senator from Kentucky blasted President Barack Obama on several issues including federal spending and foreign policy. Yet Rand, who is reportedly contemplating a run for the presidency, did not touch on the push for bipartisan immigration reform that has been backed by Obama and some moderate GOP lawmakers. Nor did Paul discuss border enforcement, a factor regarding immigration that was touched by Obama in the SOTU and Sen. Marco Rubio in the official Republican response.
Paul’s position on immigration puts at him at loggerheads with some Tea Party activists who have emphatically rejected any compromise favoring undocumented immigrants. Judson Phillips, of Tea Party Nation, proclaimed last month that a bipartisan plan created by a group of eight senators including Rubio is “political suicide” for the GOP. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas expressed “deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship” with the proposal from the “Gang of Eight.”
It remains to be seen if there will be an electoral backlash against Tea Party politicos who have started to change their tune towards favoring immigration reform. Such is the case with Rubio who was elected to the Senate in Florida in 2010 with considerable help from Tea Party activists:
"A lot of members are saying it's an amnesty bill. They're not happy with him," said Everett Wilkinson of South Florida, who heads the newly named Liberty Federation boasting more than 100,000 members…
But Henry Kelley of the Florida Tea Party Network said members he has been in touch with are generally supportive of Rubio's approach, which calls for tougher enforcement before a pathway to citizenship kicks in.
"I've always said 'round them up and throw them out' is not a strategy," Kelley said. "It's time to deal with this. I don't see this as amnesty."Video Source– YouTube via user slatester (Video uploaded in November 2012).
Online Sources – Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, Roll Call, Tampa Bay Times