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

Pat Buchanan
. This is simply not the case.

The good news first: Unlike many

Ron Paul does not support

open borders
. As he told

last summer, I
believe in national sovereignty
. Paul
understands that

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
    All the Republicans say they
    oppose illegal immigrants using government services,
    but for most this means

    instate tuition
    and maybe the

    . Ron Paul goes a step further in

    taxpayers should not pay for illegal
    aliens who use "hospitals, clinics, schools,
    [n.b.!], and social services."


    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,

    transfer payment

  • Sovereignty
    Ron Paul has opposed every single intrusion on
    America`s independence including NAFTA, CAFTA, the
    WTO, and the potential

    North American Union

    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

    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

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

  • Pandering:

    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

    "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).

  • Legal Immigration

    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
immediate future.  

  • Chain Migration:

    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
    country to

    round them up
    and put them in trucks and haul
    them out,

    that`s not feasible
    Most everyone says
    they are against mass deportations, but they instead
    support strengthening employer verification.

  • 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

  • Border Security:

    Ron Paul has said he supported increased border
    security. But he also told John Stossel that he
    finds a

    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

here whether or not they have welfare—the
biggest magnet is not welfare, but jobs. High

minimum wages

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”.

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


Marcus Epstein
him mail
] is the founder
of the Robert A Taft
and the executive director of the
The American
Team America PAC
. A selection of his articles can be seen
here. The
views he expresses are his own.