The 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq sparked a massive refugee crisis as millions fled their homes, and the U.S. has been widely criticized for failing to resettle refugees, including those who fled after being violently threatened and targeted for working with the U.S. government.
Kentucky senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul, however, thinks that the U.S. should not resettle such refugees since they would be better off in Iraq and, after all, the U.S. “won the war.”
While speaking with Iowa-based radio host Jan Mickelson yesterday, Paul criticized efforts by the U.S. and the United Nations to settle Iraqi refugees in the country. Mickelson was even more sweeping, attacking efforts to settle Muslim refugees in general.
“We won the war in Iraq, why would we be giving political asylum to people to come from a country where we won the war?” Paul asked. “It’s one thing if you’re trying to escape Castro or trying to escape communism in Russia or Vietnam or somewhere else or China, I can understand asylum, but when you win the war, why would you give people asylum? And if the 60,000 coming here are friends of the West, wouldn’t you want that 60,000 to be in Iraq helping to form a better country over there?”
He continued: “If you let the better people, the people who like the United States leave and come here, then aren’t you diminishing the numbers of folks that would make that country a better place to live? So I think the whole idea of resettling 60,000 people from Iraq over here was a mistake. But I also think that the refugee program as well as the student visa program are some of the highest risks for us to be attacked.”
Following a rant by Mickelson about the Somali-American community in Minnesota, which he deemed a national security risk, Paul agreed that the U.S. needs to reexamine its refugee program.
Mickelson recently promised to ask every 2016 candidate about Muslim refugees in the U.S.
The right-wing Leadership Institute is promoting an effort to “liberate” universities with a petition to “join Sen. Rand Paul” to “save our students” and free “our nation’s universities from liberal extremists.”
The petition isn’t exactly clear about who it is directed to, and is likely just a method at list-building for the conservative group, but what it lacks in details it makes up in fervent language, decrying universities as “left-wing indoctrination centers” led by “liberal radicals” who are bent on “brainwashing the next generation of America’s leaders.”
“[T]he conservative movement owes it to our young people to fight to liberate our colleges and universities from this liberal oppression,” the petition continues. “It’s time to liberate our college campuses!”
In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul pushed back against claims that he has a pattern of interrupting and acting rudely towards female reporters, saying that the real sexists are the people who criticize his treatment of women journalists.
“The funny thing about it is that it’s kind of a sexist position to think that somehow women announcers are less capable to handle themselves than men,” Paul said when Conway praised his testy response to Savannah Guthrie’s questions about his changing foreign policy positions. “I don’t think that, but everybody that was complaining about it, thinking it had something to do with gender, basically that’s insulting to the people doing the questioning.”
“Really the problem is that we have a lot of media that are just so far on the left that we just don’t have any neutral questions,” Paul continued. “If you go on there as a Democrat, they laugh and yuck it up and talk about how great things are going, but it’s a little bit different when Republicans are on the national news.”
As Rick Santorum found out earlier this year in Charleston, GOP presidential hopefuls should get ready to field questions about bizarre conspiracy theories, not just from activists but also influential conservative talk show hosts in early primary and caucus states like Iowa.
For example, Iowa-based radio host Jan Mickelson asked Sen. Rand Paul to respond yesterday to a burgeoning far-right conspiracy theory surrounding a military training exercise known as Jade Helm 15, which some on the far-right believe will lead to martial law.
Paul told Mickelson that he had only heard of Jade Helm in passing and would look into it.
But Mickelson implied that the issue would not be going away for Paul and his fellow GOP candidates. Saying that he “gets emails about this every day,” Mickelson told the senator, “It’s making some people nervous, but it doesn’t take much to make people nervous nowadays.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul recently sat down with the far-right outlet WorldNetDaily to discuss immigration reform, an issue about which he has been all over the map. The Republican presidential candidate, who stated in 2013 that any legal status for undocumented immigrants should “start with DREAM Act kids” but backed last year’s GOP plan to end the program that protects DREAMers from deportation, told WND that “I would’ve voted ‘no’" on the DREAM Act.
Paul also told WND’s Taylor Rose that he wants to end birthright citizenship, a key provision of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, claiming that it is turning the U.S. into “a magnet for the world” and lets “everybody come in here, have children and they all become citizens.”
Paul added that while it isn’t “fair” to send DREAMers “back to Mexico,” it also isn’t fair “to say they can stay and everybody else like them from Mexico can come also.”
“The DREAM Act alone I would’ve voted ‘no’ on because the DREAM Act didn’t fix the border,” he said. This led the senator to criticize the Motor Voter Act, saying that it has allowed for undocumented immigrants to commit voter fraud.
When Rose asked Paul about the unemployment rate in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, the senator blamed it on immigration, adding that he “hasn’t met any farmers who say Americans will pick crops.”
“Americans are unwilling to work for $8 an hour and pick crops because they can sit at home and watch soap operas for government pay for 10 bucks an hour,” Paul said. “The problem is, we have a very generous safety net, maybe overly generous. What I say is if they look like you or look like me and they hop out of their truck, they shouldn’t be on disability.”
Referring to a “picture of a Social Security office floating around the internet,” he said that Americans won’t take low-paying jobs because it is easier to claim that they are disabled in order to collect Social Security benefits.
For the last several months, Glenn Beck's network has been regularly running a presidential poll in which Beck's audience ranks various possible GOP presidential candidates, giving them each a grade ranging from A to F.
Today, Beck and his co-hosts spent the first hour of their radio program going over the results of this month's poll, which found — surprise, surprise — that their audience tends to like the same candidates that they like and dislike the same candidates that they dislike, so that Jeb Bush got an "F" while Ted Cruz got an "A" and everyone else fell somewhere in between.
Since the poll already features a host of people who most likely are not going to actually run for president, Beck suggested today that they should add Judge Andrew Napolitano to the list for next month just because there is a "Draft Napolitano" effort underway online and Beck thinks it would be interesting to see what sort of support the judge could garner from Beck's audience.
The idea then prompted Beck to begin to fantasize that if Rand Paul becomes president, he would probably nominate Napolitano to a seat on the Supreme Court.
"Can you imagine if Rand Paul got in?" he said. "Judge Napolitano would probably be a candidate for Supreme Court. Can you imagine that? That would be great!"
In a video posted yesterday by the Christian Broadcasting Network, Rand Paul addressed “a group of pastors and religious leaders at a private prayer breakfast” in Washington D.C. on Thursday about the need for “revival” in America complete with “tent revivals” full of people demanding reform.
He suggested during the event that the debate about legalizing same-sex marriage is the result of a “moral crisis” in the country: “Don’t always look to Washington to solve anything. In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country, there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage, there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.”
“We need a revival in the country,” Paul said. “We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, ‘reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.’”
Previously, the likely presidential candidate said that gay marriage should remain banned because it “offends myself and a lot of people.”
This op-ed by Randy Borntager, Political Director of People For the American Way, was originally published at The Huffington Post.
After the vast majority of Republicans voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security to oppose President Obama's immigration actions, and with Republicans blocking any hope of real immigration reform this Congress, it seems the anti-immigrant movement has instead decided to refocus its efforts on revoking the constitutional right to birthright citizenship.
Earlier this week, Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana decided to introduce a birthright citizenship amendment to the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. The amendment so far has just one cosponsor -- Sen. David Perdue of Georgia -- and it's unlikely that it will be included in the final bill, but this decision to tack an unconstitutional, anti-immigrant measure onto an important bill shows the priorities of Sen. Vitter and the Republican Party.
Sen. Vitter claims that his birthright citizenship amendment would help curb the issue of "birth tourism," recently in the news surrounding Chinese mothers coming to California -- often committing crimes in the process -- so their children can be born in the U.S. It would seem more sensible to tackle this issue through targeting the middlemen who NBC reports "pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars tax-free," and the visa, tax, and marriage fraud that are often a key part of "birth tourism." Instead, Sen. Vitter and the many Republicans who support ending birthright citizenship are trying to use the issue as cover for their attacks on immigrants and attempts to revoke a core constitutional right.
The flaws of the conservative attacks on birthright citizenship have been well documented. First, it's blatantly unconstitutional. It's clear that the drafters of the 14th Amendment intended it to guarantee citizenship to everyone born in the U.S. The only exception -- in the words of one of the amendment drafter's, Sen. Jacob Howard -- is for people "who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States," as they are not, as the 14th Amendment requires, "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. Conservatives from Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush adviser, to the anti-immigrant Lou Dobbs have viewed attempts to undermine birthright citizenship as unconstitutional.
It's also a terrible idea. Gerson wrote, "Anti-immigration activists often claim that their real concern is to prevent law breaking, not to exclude Hispanics. But revoking birthright citizenship would turn hundreds of thousands of infants into 'criminals'--arriving, not across a border, but crying in a hospital." The Migration Policy Institute also found that rather than decreasing the number of undocumented immigrants in America, as birthright citizenship activists claim, revoking the right would "likely increase dramatically" the number of people in the country without authorization, leading to the "establishment of a permanent class of unauthorized persons."
Sen. Vitter is not the only Republican promoting anti-immigrant bills instead of trying for real, bipartisan solutions on immigration. In January of this year, Rep. Steve King of Iowa re-introduced a bill aiming to repeal birthright citizenship. Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Rep. Mike Coffman, and Rep. Joe Heck have all backed plans to revoke birthright citizenship in the past.
We need immigration reform. From improving the economy while reducing the deficit to ensuring that DREAMers and their families can live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, the benefits are endless. Not only have Republicans blocked comprehensive immigration reform when it had a real chance of passing, they're now trying yet again to bring up unconstitutional bills to drive their point home. That's not what responsible governing looks like, and for a party that says they're trying to attract more Latino support, they're certainly not shy about attacking immigrants for short-term political gain.
Today, People For the American Way, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org called on GOP presidential candidates to distance themselves from Conservative Political Action Conference’s ties to ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Robert Vandervoort.
As we reported last week, ProEnglish is sponsoring a booth in the event’s exhibit hall, which costs $4,000. ProEnglish has been allowed to sponsor the event for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties with white nationalist groups. Nearly every major Republican presidential contender is scheduled to speak at the event this weekend.
Here is the full text of the open letter from PFAW, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org:
Dear Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Gov. Scott Walker:
We understand that you are scheduled to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an event which is being partially sponsored by ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoort. We urge you to decline to speak at CPAC unless it cuts ties with ProEnglish and Vandervoort.
ProEnglish has sponsored CPAC for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties to the white nationalist movement. As the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has reported, Vandervoort is the former leader of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a group dedicated to supporting the ideals of the infamous white nationalist publication American Renaissance. One member of the group described its mission as encouraging “white survival and maintaining white majorities.”
Vandervoort’s own writings reflect these views. He has expressed concern about the need to “halt the cultural and racial dispossession of the West's historic people” and expounded on “racial differences” in “intelligence and temperament.” He has wondered how “race realists and pro-Western Civ nationalists” like himself can counter historical comparisons to the Holocaust and slavery.
CPAC has a troubling history of welcoming white nationalists. In 2012, the conference hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoort and fellow white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow. And ProEnglish has continued to be allowed to sponsor the event even after civil rights groups have raised concerns.
Clearly, Robert Vandervoort and his group should have no place as a financial sponsor of the nation’s largest convention of conservatives. We urge you to distance yourself from Vandervoort’s views and refuse to speak at CPAC unless ProEnglish’s sponsorship is withdrawn.
Michael Keegan, President
People For the American Way
Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director