SARA EISEN: As this debate heats up among your colleagues on the floor of the Senate, what has been the reception to some of your proposed amendments?
SEN. RAND PAUL: Well, you know, we haven't had a full airing or discussion yet, but I'm one of the Republicans who favors immigration reform, but I think that any legalization of those who are here illegally should be dependent upon border security, and unfortunately we're hearing from the Gang of Eight they want the opposite. They want legalization not dependent on border security, but I think most conservatives in the country want to see the border secured, and then they're willing to go ahead and give documentation to workers that are here illegally. But we can't do it if we're not going to secure the border first.
EISEN: So if you do not get that dependent, that factor, that amnesty is tied to border security, will you then not vote for the bill?
PAUL: Really, I think it's a fatal flaw of the bill. If the bill does not allow for Congress to vote on whether or not the border's secure, and if the documentation process is not dependent on the borders being secure, I think the whole concept is fatally flawed.
ERIK SCHATZKER: Senator, you pointed out that your proposed amendments haven’t yet had a full airing in the Senate. What kind of reception are you getting in the House, because this bill isn’t going to go anywhere unless the House Republicans get behind it as well? What are they saying about your proposed amendments?
PAUL: I’ve talked to many conservatives in the House, and some who are willing to vote for some kind of immigration reform, but they tell me it’s a non-starter to legalize all the people and then have a promise that the administration will write a report on whether or not the border’s secure. So what I’m talking to them about is that Congress gets to vote each year – I call my amendment Trust But Verify – that we verify that the border is becoming more secure but voting on it each year. And I think a lot of conservatives in the House are interested in this idea. I know that they’re on a completely different page than the bill in the Senate. The bill in the Senate has no chance in the House. What I’m trying to do is offer up something that is a bridge between the gap between the Senate and the House.
EISEN: But Senator Paul, this idea that Congress would have the authority to vote on whether the border security is being met. People don’t trust Congress! If you look at Americans and you look at the polling data: they don’t want to politicize this process.
PAUL: Yeah, well it is politicized because government’s involved with it. Your representatives are involved with it. What I would say is, we need more to assure people that the border will be secure. The main problem with the ’86 legalization process was that they offered us and said, “Oh, border security will come at a later date.” It never came. And that’s why conservatives are unhappy.
The only way to make conservatives, and the public at large, more confident is to have more checks and balances in the bill. So what I’m asking is yes, every year Congress gets the chance to come back and reevaluate this. Is that a political process? Yes. But it’s a check and a balance against saying to President Obama’s administration: Oh, you guys take care of it. You write a report and tell us whether you approve that the border is secure. I don’t buy that, and I think that Congress has to approve that the border’s being secured. That’s the only thing that I would trust.
SCHATZKER: Senator, how is it that Congress would know that the border is secure? You’re trying to prove the unknowable: demonstrating that illegal immigrants haven’t made it across the border into the United States. The fact that they illegally made it across the border in the first place means that they’ve escaped the surveillance and security of the border to begin with.
PAUL: We do several things. Number one: Instead of saying border security is something that the administration will do, we write it into the bill. We say that 100 miles of fence has to be built. We give more authority to immigration courts. We also say that if you’re caught crossing the border illegally, you’re not released.
You’re not allowed to go into the interior country and advised or encouraged to come back for your court date. You’re held. There’s a quick court date, and you’re deported if you came in here illegally.
So we have more security that we write into the substance of the bill. But then what we have, is at the end of year one, an investigator general looks into border security. We look at census data to see how many illegal aliens or immigrants are said to be in the country. We look at all of these things. We look at reports from governors and then we vote on whether the border is more secure or less at the end of the year, given all of this information.
We do two things: We go ahead and tell Congress to institute border security, we write it in the bill. And then we also have a report that comes back and is voted on by Congress.