WASHINGTON -- An amendment to put $30 billion towards border security, including 20,000 more agents along the border, is not enough to convince Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to support the bill.
The Kentucky Republican told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that he would oppose comprehensive immigration reform as currently written. A new "border surge" amendment, introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would provide unprecedented investment in that element of reform. But the problem, Paul argued, is not a lack of resources being devoted to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rather, Paul said his concern continues to be that a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented citizens would be put in place regardless of whether border security has been achieved. And unless the bill includes his amendment -- which requires Congress to vote on whether border security is sufficient in order for the pathway to commence -- he won't back the reform effort.
"I'm all in favor of immigration reform, but I'm like most conservatives in the country, [in] that I think reform should be dependent on border security first," Paul said.
"We've thrown a lot of money at a lot of problems in our country. To me, what really tells me that they're serious would be letting Congress vote on whether the border is secure," he said. "If the people in the country want to be assured that we will not get another 10 million people to come here illegally over the next decade, they have to believe that they get a vote through their Congress."
Though he once suggested he could support immigration reform, Paul's opposition is not critical to the legislation's prospects one way or the other. The bill is expected to make it through the Senate well above the 60-vote threshold that it needs to avoid a filibuster. The real hurdle will come when the House of Representatives is asked to move on the legislation.
But Paul still is a good indicator of where the libertarian wing of the Republican Party stands. And the fact that he opposes the deal could persuade some fellow GOPers to vote no as well, out of fear that they’ll make themselves vulnerable to conservative attacks.