WASHINGTON — Tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday that 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.
What he doesn’t support, the Kentucky Republican said, is amnesty or a new pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. He said he simply believes they should be able to stay in the country on what he called probationary status.
“You get in the normal line to citizenship that’s already available, so it’s not a new pathway, it’s an existing pathway,” Paul told reporters.
The dust-up underscored how semantics matter in the volatile debate over immigration, especially for a conservative who may seek the presidency in 2016. Twitter users were already dubbing Paul’s stance “Randmesty,” while an anti-immigration group, NumbersUSA, deemed his proposal “radical” and predicted that Kentucky residents would be “disappointed and maybe even shocked.”
Paul himself ended up telling reporters on a conference call that both the terms “amnesty” and “path to citizenship” were better avoided because they just cloud the debate and prevent immigration reform from happening.
Read More at OfficialWire . By Erica Werner.