Rand Paul's Senate campaign has clarified yet again the Kentucky Republican's position on how to stem illegal immigration, this time fully embracing a proposal he once criticized: the construction of a physical fence along the border.
In an email statement to the Huffington Post, Paul's chief spokesman also insisted that Paul does not, as he has stated previously and on his own campaign website, support building an underground electrical fence along the border.
"Let me be clear," said Jesse Benton. "Rand Paul will secure our border by any means needed as our current open border is a threat to national security and economic well being. Dr. Paul supports a virtual electronic fence as one means to accomplish this. He supports this in concert with and in addition to the physical border fence, which is the law of the land."
The comment from Benton adds clarity to an immigration policy platform that has been a bit confusing and certainly provocative. Several weeks ago, the Huffington Post reported that Paul had been championing an underground electrical fence as a way to detect border crossings (law enforcement officials stationed with helicopters at nearby stations would then detain those coming into the country illegally). Senate Republicans copped to having never heard of such an idea. Libertarian immigration experts openly criticized the cost and draconian nature of the proposal.
Since then, Paul's camp has insisted that the underground electrical fence was simply an erroneous item on the campaign website, not something that the Tea Party backed candidate actually supports. But there is clear video evidence of Paul advocating the proposal on the campaign trail. In fact, in the same video in which Paul touts building a fence underground, he also talks disparagingly about the symbolism of building an above-ground structure dividing the United States and Mexico -- the very proposal his campaign is now embracing.
Here is a video segment of Paul on the campaign trail in May 2009:
"I don't like the symbolism of a 15-foot fence going the whole border. It's extraordinarily expensive, and it reminds me of the Berlin Wall which was built to keep people in and from fleeing to the West," Paul said. "I think you could actually put in an electronic fence under the whole border for probably $10 or $15 million, which sounds like a lot to us but that's peanuts. And you could probably have helicopter stations in maybe five different locations, and I think you could have any breach of the border could be stopped at any point and we send them back."