Any deal to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants brought to America as children should include a requirement that the beneficiaries count against annual legal immigration caps, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Thursday.
Paul, speaking on "The Laura Ingraham Show," reacted to reports that President Donald Trump and the top Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives had of an amnesty for people who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
"If you want to internally immigrate people who are here illegally, they should count against the totals of people who come in each year," he said. "So if we immigrate a million people in each year, and you want to internally immigrate people who are already here, they should be subtracted from the million total, not added to it."
According to the Department of Homeland Security, some 690,000 illegal immigrants currently are enrolled in DACA, which Trump has vowed to end in six months. As a candidate, Trump vowed to end the program. Paul said he worries "Potomac Fever" may have overcome Trump.
"So I'm thinking, maybe as a physician, I need to go over there and check the temperature of the president and make sure he's not caught this fever, which makes you forget your campaign promises," he said.
DACA recipients are a sympathetic group, since children have no role in the decision by their parents to violate immigration laws.
But Paul said no-strings amnesty would result in an increase in immigration totals well beyond the immediate beneficiaries.
"The other problem is, if you do normalize them, you are going to eventually normalize their parents, their cousins, their friends," he said. "It becomes a huge number, much bigger than the DACA number actually is."
Paul said he is leery of upfront amnesty and promises of increased enforcement to prevent future illegal immigration. That model failed after an amnesty granted by Congress in 1986, he said.
"Border security has to precede any kind of forgiveness," he said. "Because if you do forgiveness and then don't have security, it does then becomes an incentive for more people to break the law and come."
Paul said improved border security is important but expressed skepticism toward Trump's signature proposal for a border wall and increased use of technology such as drones. He said that was a feature of the so-called "Gang of Eight" bill that passed the Senate in 2013.
"They began loading it up with billions and billions of dollars in promised security, and in the end it looked like a Christmas tree that was just as likely to bankrupt us as anything else," he said. "And I don't know that it was smart security; it was just very expensive."
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