Rand Paul: My border security plan ‘only way’ to pass immigration bill

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that his border security plan is the “only way” to win conservative support for comprehensive immigration reform.

Paul said his “Trust but Verify” amendment offers a key element that other proposals do not: it would allow Congress to vote every year on whether the country’s borders are secure.

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“You’re only going to get the conservatives, particularly a Republican House, to pass immigration reform if we as conservatives are reassured that the border is controlled and that we get to vote on whether the border is controlled,” said Paul on Fox News Sunday.

“The only way you get this forward, I think my ‘Trust but Verify’ [amendment] actually will bring the House along. No immigration reform’s going to happen unless Republicans in the House sign onto it. And I don’t think they’ll sign onto it unless you get something like what I’m talking about.”

Paul, who won the CPAC straw poll this year and is seen as a rising presidential hopeful, came out in support earlier this week for creating a path for illegal immigrants to gain legal status. Paul’s efforts could be crucial in selling an immigration overhaul to skeptical House conservatives.

On Sunday, Paul said he’s not against an e-verify system that would require employers to check a person’s legal status before hiring them to work. But Paul said the burden of checking that potential employees’ status should fall on the government and not businesses.

“It’s not that I’m opposed to some sort of database check,” said Paul. “For example, when you come into the country, I think the country should do a background check on you to find out if you’re a felon or there’s a problem.

“I also think that those who come in to get a work visa should be in a database and that when someone applies for welfare it should be mandatory that they look at the database to make sure you’re not here on a work visa, which means that you’re not eligible to vote and you’re not eligible for welfare,” he added. “I just would prefer the government to be the policeman and not the businessman.”

A bipartisan group of eight senators is currently working to craft a comprehensive immigration bill that would create a path to citizenship, strengthen an e-verify system, and bolster the border’s security.

But the group, which unveiled their framework in January has many details left to resolve, although reports suggest they are optimistic they will have legislation by the end of April.

A House group is also working on an immigration reform plan, which last week received the general backing of House leaders from both parties.