Before anyone excommunicates him from the GOP on grounds of RINOism, ask yourself: Will there be a single Republican candidate onstage next year at the debates who challenges him on this point? Don’t say Cruz. Cruz opposes a path to citizenship but he’s in line with Paul, Rubio, etc, on legalization and work permits, which are the truly important provisions. Once legalization is granted, citizenship will inevitably follow. (That’s why it’s crucial to secure the border first, to make sure that this amnesty is the last amnesty.) If Paul’s candidacy is DOA for taking this line, I’m not sure whose candidacy is still alive.

Besides, America is already largely “beyond deportation.”

During a symposium at the Newseum on conservative engagement with Hispanic media outlets, Paul also said Republicans have plenty of ideas that appeal to Latinos, but acknowledged, “We got to get beyond deportation to get to the rest of the issues.”

“The bottom line is that the Hispanic community, the Latino community, is not going to hear us until we get beyond that issue. They’re not going to care whether we go to the same church or have the same values or believe in the same kind of future of the country until we get beyond that. So showing up helps. But you got to show up and you got to say something and it’s has to be different than what we’ve been saying.”…

“I think one way to get the door ajar is say that you know, Mrs. Garcia’s nephew is not going to be sent home to Mexico,” he said. “You know, because everybody — even those who are here illegally — know somebody who is here who doesn’t have the proper visa.”…

Paul, who voted against last year’s Senate comprehensive immigration bill, expressed frustration that the bill still keeps it illegal for immigrants with certain visas to change jobs while in the United States. He gave an example of a migrant worker who came here with a legal visa to pick crops for $9 dollars an hour but later saw a construction job that paid $14 dollars an hour.

The most interesting part of that to me isn’t the deportation bit. After the beating Romney took for advocating attrition through enforcement, a.k.a. “self-deportation,” in 2012, no Republican with national ambitions is going to defend the D-word. The interesting part is that Rand is still kinda sorta pushing the “Latinos are conservatives but just don’t know it yet” line which, I thought, most people who follow politics now accepted was self-serving nonsense endorsed by GOP amnesty fans. More than one poll, including the national exit poll in 2012, show Latinos favoring gay marriage. Abortion is more complicated, but the same 2012 exit poll found that 66 percent of Latinos thought abortion should be legal compared to 59 percent of the overall population. Maybe that’s an artifact of higher turnout among Latino Democrats for Obama’s reelection bid or maybe it’s a more durable trend. As for Paul’s point about sharing a vision for the future of the country, here’s the reality from Pew circa April 2012:


A Gallup poll taken two months later, in June 2012, showed a similar result. When asked whether government is doing too much or not enough, American registered voters overall split 57/37. Latino registered voters split 35/56. And so we return to the big question: Are these preferences more a product of firm ideological inclination or are they more a product of alienation from the GOP over immigration policy? Republicans don’t need to win a majority of Latinos to make Democrats’ lives difficult electorally — even a 40/60 split would be tough for the left — but the “ask” here in terms of legalizing 10+ million people is high given the uncertainty. Look back at the Pew poll and you’ll find a further complication: It’s younger Latinos and recent immigrants who are the furthest left politically. Is that because they’re alienated from the GOP in a way that older generations, which watched Reagan sign the 1986 amnesty, aren’t? Or is it because broader political trends, like the leftward drift and lesser role of religion among younger voters generally, have delivered them there? The problem is more or less fixable depending upon how you answer. Republican candidates, Paul included, have to take the “it’s our fault” line because they can’t afford to formally write off an entire demographic. The trick is convincing Republican base voters that it’s true.