Ron Paul On Immigration—The Good, The Bad, And The Idiosyncratic
Ron Paul`s presidential campaign has exceeded all
expectations. The man who at first was seen as a fringe
libertarian candidate has become a household name with
hundreds of thousands of loyal supporters. Many
patriotic immigration reformers who share his
America First stance on sovereignty and foreign affairs
are attracted to his campaign. But some of these people
assume that his views on immigration are near identical
to that of
Tom Tancredo or
Pat Buchanan. This is simply not the case.
The good news first: Unlike many
libertarians, Ron Paul does not support
open borders. As he told
VDARE.COM last summer, “I
believe in national sovereignty“. Paul
globalism is one the biggest threats to liberty. He
also recognizes the relationship between mass
immigration and the welfare state.
But at the same time, Paul says he supports the
free exchange of labor, whatever that means, and
wants as little government involvement as possible.
Just as with all the other candidates, we need to
take a serious and thorough look at Paul`s immigration
Let`s start with where he`s right:
Ending welfare to illegal
aliens. All the Republicans say they
oppose illegal immigrants using government services,
but for most this means
instate tuition and maybe the
EITC. Ron Paul goes a step further in
saying taxpayers should not pay for illegal
aliens who use "hospitals, clinics, schools,
roads [n.b.!], and social services."
hospitals are probably hit harder by illegal
immigration than most other government programs.
Paul is the only candidate who is serious about
cutting off the welfare—really,
Mike Huckabee has been vacillating about
birthright citizenship, Ron Paul, to his great
credit, has been a leader in this issue for years.
He has co-sponsored bills that clarify that the
14th Amendment does not grant citizenship
to children of illegals, as well as
constitutional amendments if that approach
fails. Paul recognizes that opposition to amnesty
and welfare for illegals is futile when their
children become US citizens and can receive
benefits and, ultimately, sponsor their parents.
Ron Paul has opposed every single intrusion on
America`s independence including NAFTA, CAFTA, the
WTO, and the potential
North American Union and
NAFTA superhighway. These institutions affect
more than just immigration, but most of them have
provisions that take immigration policy out of the
hands of the American people.
Opposition to Amnesty:
while Ron Paul does not have a perfect voting record
on amnesty—he repeatedly voted for
Section 245(i), which created a de facto amnesty
for illegal aliens while they waited to get green
cards through normal channels—in recent years, Paul
has made it clear that he opposes all
"comprehensive immigration reform."
Numbers USA long ranked him above Romney,
McCain, Huckabee, and Giuliani in his opposition to
amnesty. (Although recently he seems to have been
out-promised. More about this in a future article).
But there are many areas where Paul`s positions are
not clear, even problematic:
Civil Liberties and
Federalism versus immigration reform.
Ron Paul opposes the
Real ID act and
similar measures that some patriotic
immigration reformers support. He also occasionally
opposes federal legislation dealing with sanctuary
cities, official English, and
instate tuition, because he feels that it is not
the business of the Federal government to tell the
states what policies to have on these issues.
Personally, I don`t think restrictionists should hold
these stands against Paul. After all, VDARE.COM`s
Bryanna Bevens also
thought REAL ID was a blunt instrument. It is
perfectly possible to deal with the immigration problem
without relying on Big Brother. With cities, states, and
localities taking the lead on real immigration reform,
it is also in our interest to keep the federal
government and courts from interfering with state
Compared to most of the other candidates, Ron Paul
has not engaged in much Hispandering… Nonetheless,
Paul spoke at the Spanish Language Univision Debate.
While there, he
said, "I sometimes think that those who
attack bilingualism sometimes are jealous, and we
feel inferior, because
we`re not capable." He also agreed that
there was a "negative tone" to the
immigration debate. But he was willing to stand up
the booing crowd when it came to the issue of the
Cuban embargo. (He thinks it`s counter-productive).
Ron Paul`s statements on legal immigration have been
vague and occasionally troubling. He told ABC`s John
Stossel that without the welfare state, legal
immigration "would be a non-issue." He also
said, "I think we could be much more generous
with our immigration," and "If we have a
healthy economy, we would probably have a lot of
people coming back and forth working in this
Paul on Immigration, by John Stossel,
January 03, 2008] Now of course all of these are
hypotheticals—and he has
VDARE.COM`s Peter Brimelow
that we are not necessarily at that point yet.
It would be ideal if Paul
would come around to oppose mass immigration in
principle and practice. But I wish Paul would at least
say what our legal immigration levels should be in the
Paul has yet to make any statements about how
selective we should be about legal immigrants,
except the vague statement that "Legal immigrants
from all countries should face the same rules and
waiting periods." While there are problems with
both high skilled immigration and unskilled
immigration, the current system of nepotistic
preference for relatives of anyone already here are
making both problems worse.
Dealing with the current
illegal problem: Ron Paul has stated
he supports deporting
illegal aliens who get arrested. But he told
VDARE.COM that "having an army to go around the
round them up and put them in trucks and haul
that`s not feasible." Most everyone says
they are against mass deportations, but they instead
support strengthening employer verification.
Paul has not taken a clear stance on employer
verification, nor has he signed on as a co-sponsor
to the SAVE act. It is possible that Paul has some
civil liberties opposition to this positions—though
he hasn`t said that—but if that is the case, he
needs to articulate a serious alternative proposal
to remove the illegal alien population in this
Ron Paul has said he supported increased border
security. But he also told John Stossel that he
border fence "rather offensive," and his
vote for the border fence was symbolic. If Paul
doesn`t support a fence, he should explain what he
would like to do to
secure the border.
As this all demonstrates, Paul is a good but still
mixed bag on immigration—especially legal immigration.
The fundamental problem: he tends to see immigration as
a purely economic issue. His idea that the welfare state
is the key problem is overly simplistic and unrealistic.
Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has shown that
even if all means tested welfare, social services, and
all direct transfer payments were abolished, low skilled
immigrants would still be a fiscal drain—and that`s
assuming that they would pay the same amount in taxes
that they do now. [Spinning
the Real Costs of Illegals, June 28, 2007]
Immigrants are indeed attracted to the US for
economic reasons. But even without welfare, we still
have a much higher standard of living than most of the
world. Immigrants will continue to
flood here whether or not they have welfare—the
biggest magnet is not welfare, but jobs. High
union laws, and other policies that restrict low
wage workers discourage immigration. This does not mean
we need to adopt these policies, but it does mean that
free markets alone will not solve the problem. Either by
commission or omission, Americans still must choose who
to admit into their national community.
And there many other reasons why
libertarian constitutionalists should oppose mass
- The cultural and demographic preconditions for
limited government—sometimes called the “metamarket”.
- The chilling effect diversity has on the
free exchange of thought.
- The need for authoritarian government to hold
Balkanized ethnic groups together.
left wing attitudes, especially on economic
issues, held by Hispanics.
revolt against capitalism where there are
"market dominant minorities"—which
whites will certainly become, if mass
Ron Paul has said honestly that immigration is an
issue that he still struggles with. If he struggles with
some of these ideas, he might gravitate closer towards
our point of view. But this will not happen if all his
patriotic immigration reform supporters give him a free
Meanwhile, Paul`s pusillanimity on the immigration/
national sovereignty issue is costing him
him mail] is the founder
of the Robert A Taft
Club and the executive director of the
Team America PAC. A selection of his articles can be seen
views he expresses are his own.