Sen. Rand Paul’s Keynote Speech at Immigration Forum
Rand Paul gave the following speech at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.
Por favor disculpen mi Espanol. Como creci en Houston -es un poco ‘espanglish y un poco Tex Mex.
It’s great to be here with you today.
As we continue to debate immigration in Congress this week, I think sometimes the human factor gets lost. When discussing the issue, I think it’s important to remember that we’re talking about people, not just policy.
We’re not talking about criminals we’re talking about immigrant workers caught up in a failed government visa program.
I think it’s always important that we put a human face on immigration and not just talk about numbers and statistics.
I can’t think about immigration without thinking about my own family.
My German great-grandparents didn’t speak much English when they came to America. They didn’t have much, but they also didn’t ask for much—all they wanted was an opportunity.
They began in America peddling vegetables. They finally got that opportunity when they started a dairy business in their garage, scraping together a living, raising a family, and constantly working to give their children a better life than they had.
My great-grandfather came to America in the 1880s. His father died after only six months in America. At 14, my great-grandfather was alone.
He survived and ultimately thrived in his new country with a new language. In their home and their church they spoke German.
As the son of immigrants, my grandfather, who only had an 8th grade education, would live to see his own children all go to college. They became ministers, professors, doctors and accountants and one of them became a Congressman.
My family’s story is like that of millions of others who came to this country. Every generation of immigrants wants these opportunities.
The problem we face today is: How do we now reflect this in our 21st century immigration policy?
It is absolutely vital for both the success of our immigration policy and for the purposes of national security that we finally secure our borders.
Not to stop most immigrants from coming—we welcome them and in fact should seek to increase legal immigration.
The Republican Party must embrace more legal immigration.
Unfortunately, like many of the major debates in Washington, immigration has become a stalemate—where both sides are imprisoned by their own rhetoric or attachment to sacred cows that prevent the possibility of a balanced solution.
First, everyone has to acknowledge that we aren’t going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants.
If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you.
In order to bring conservatives to this cause however, those who work for reform must understand that a real solution must ensure that our borders are secure.
But we also must treat those who are already here with understanding and compassion.
The first part of my plan – border security – must be certified by Border Patrol and an Investigator General and then voted on by Congress to ensure it has been accomplished.
This is what I call, Trust but Verify.
With this in place, I believe conservatives will accept what needs to come next, an issue that must be addressed: what becomes of the 12 million undocumented workers in the United States?
My plan is very simple and will include work visas for those who are here, who are willing to come forward and work.
A bipartisan panel would determine number of visas per year. High tech visas would also be expanded and have a priority. Special entrepreneurial visas would also be issued.
Fairness is key in any meaningful immigration reform, but this fairness would cut both ways:
The modernization of our visa system and border security would allow us to accurately track immigration.
It would also enable us to let more people in and allow us to admit we are not going to deport the millions of people who are currently here illegally.
This is where prudence, compassion and thrift all point us toward the same goal: bringing these workers out of the shadows and into being taxpaying members of society.
Imagine 12 million people who are already here coming out of the shadows to become new taxpayers.12 million more people assimilating into society. 12 million more people being productive contributors.
Conservatives are wary of amnesty. My plan will not grant amnesty or move anyone to the front of the line.
But what we have now is de facto amnesty.
The solution doesn’t have to be amnesty or deportation-a middle ground might be called probation where those who came illegally become legal through a probationary period.
My plan will not impose a national ID card or mandatory E-Verify, forcing businesses to become policemen.
We should not be unfair to those who came to our country legally. Nor should we force business owners to become immigration inspectors-making them do the job the federal government has failed to do.
After an Inspector General has verified that the border is secure after year one, the report must come back and be approved by Congress.
In year two, we could begin expanding probationary work visas to immigrants who are willing to work. I would have Congress vote each year for five years whether to approve or not approve a report on whether or not we are securing the border.
We should be proud that so many want to come to America, that it is still seen as the land of opportunity.
On immigration, common sense and decency have been neglected for far too long. Let’s secure our borders, welcome our new neighbors, and practice the values of freedom and family for all to see.
Embracing immigrants is an American value, but just one of many.
My religion is not something I wear on my sleeve. I try to stay true to my family and my faith. I’m a Christian, a husband and a father. I’m faithful to my wife and my family. I try to be good at all those things, though, of course, we all fall short of perfection in our lives. I try to adhere to the tenets of God’s word in the New Testament. I take seriously my oath to defend the Constitution. And I try to fight for truth and my values regardless of the political outcome, regardless of how popular or unpopular they may be.
One of thing worth fighting for is life. I don’t think a civilization can long endure that does not have respect for all human life, born and not yet born.
We have a great many problems in this country to solve. But I believe there will come a time when we are all judged on whether or not we took a stand in defense of all life from the moment of conception until our last natural breath.
As a teenager, I gave my first public speech in my church. It was an overcoming. My hands shook. My heart pounded. I wondered, can i do this?
But somehow I did. And because I wanted to talk about things that were important, I persisted. I chided my church as a senior in high school for not seeming to care about the not yet born, for looking the other way and for not taking a stand on life.
Though I believe in limited powers for the federal government, I believe, as our founders did, that primary among these powers and duties is the protection of life, that government cannot protect liberty if it does not first protect life.
We must embrace the values of life, liberty and prosperity that will lead this country back to greatness. And we should do so proudly as Christians.
Ultimately, our success in life is measured in man’s humanity toward man. This is true of our immigration policies. This is true of our attitude towards our fellow man.
For the American Dream to be achievable for all, we have to have an educational system that believes that all students have the capability to succeed.
Unfortunately, the education establishment seems to casually discard Latinos, blacks, and others into crummy schools with no hope.
I argue that the struggle for a good education is the civil rights issue of our day.
I love the story of Jaime Escalante. They made a movie about him: Stand and Deliver.
In the area of East Los Angeles, in 1982, in an environment that values a quick fix over education and learning, Escalante was a new math teacher at Garfield High School determined to change the system and challenge the students to a higher level of achievement.
Escalante was at first not well liked by students, receiving numerous taunts and threats.
As the year progressed, he was able to win over the attention of the students by implementing innovative teaching techniques.
He transformed even the most troublesome teens into dedicated students. While Escalante was teaching basic arithmetic and algebra, he realized that his students have far more potential.
He decided to teach them calculus. To do so, he held a summer course in pre-calculus.
Despite concerns and skepticism of other teachers, who felt that “you can’t teach logarithms to illiterates,” Escalante nonetheless developed a program in which his students can eventually take AP Calculus by their senior year.
Taking the AP Calculus exam in the spring of their senior year, his students were relieved and overjoyed to find that they have all passed, a feat done by few in the state.
My dream is that we transform the education monopoly into a thriving, competitive environment where Hispanic students get to choose what school they attend and that no student is forgotten or ignored.
Jaime Escalante will always be remembered for the wonderful things he did for his kids.
Man’s humanity toward’s man is how we will be judged. For the teacher. For the student. For the immigrant. For the unborn. For the next generation.
We, as Christians, should never lose sight of what’s important. We, as Americans, should never lose sight of the things we share in common, and do our best to love thy neighbor, every chance we get.
Thank you and God bless.