“After an inspector general has verified that the border is secure, after year one the report comes back and is voted on by Congress, this is where my plan is different from anything else out there,” Paul said. “I say we begin documenting the workers, but that documentation is conditional on the border being secure.” He said only a limited number of people would be legalized each year as the Congress votes on the report. Depending on the vote, more people would be legalized. “It’s going to take awhile,” Paul said.
His “Trust but Verify” amendment would also require Congress to write and enforce a border security blueprint rather than relying on DHS to come up with a plan. The amendment would provide new national security safeguards to track the holders of student visas and those provided asylum and refugee status.
“This is the real part of my amendment that makes the bill stronger: We vote each year on whether the border is becoming more secure,” Paul said.
But one aide to a Democratic member of the bipartisan group of senators who drafted the bill said it is not likely that those members will reach out to Paul to get his support.
“In theory, Sen. Paul’s support would be great to have,” the aide said. “But there is little in what he has offered to show that he wants to support the bill. His vote would not be crucial to have.”
Paul said many of the Republicans who are currently opposed to an immigration overhaul supported it in 1986 and need to be reassured that things will be different this time.
“They feel like they were tricked,” Paul said, adding that taking discretion away from the DHS and voting each year would go a long way toward providing needed assurances that the law would be effectively enforced.
Some supporters of an immigration rewrite are wary of Paul’s amendment because they argue that it would endanger the path to citizenship by leaving it to the vagaries of politics.
Paul said he understood that concern but added, “I don’t want to vote yes and then find out in 10 years everybody is pointing their finger at me and saying, ‘There are 10 million more people here, why did you vote for that crummy bill?’”
While Paul said that he would support the bill if his amendment is adopted, he also said he is open to discussions with the bill’s authors.
“There is no reason why this bill can’t be made better,” Paul said. “If this is not about politics, if this is truly about passing immigration reform and making our system better, what they ought to do is come to people like me, who are open to it, and say, ‘What can we do to work with you?’ So far I haven’t gotten that. We’ll see.”
Paul also said he had problems with the E-Verify provision. Under the bill, all employers would be required to use the employment verification system — known as E-Verify — to check that job applicants are lawful for employment.
Paul said he thinks it is onerous to businesses and could result in more hiring of white workers as business look to avoid the problem.