Has Ron Paul flipped on immigration?

From my 2007 interview with him:

VD: Do you believe in open borders? That’s the Libertarian position, after all.

RP: Some libertarians believe in totally open borders. I don’t. Remember, I was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president in 1988 and I ran as a Right-to-Life Libertarian. I don’t support totally open borders, because although I think the federal government should be small, protecting borders and providing national defense – which excludes occupying other countries – are two of its legitimate functions. I would beef up the borders and not worry about the Korean and Iraqi borders. It’s ironic that we’re taking border guards off our borders and paying them to go and train border guards over there. I do understand the libertarian argument. The more we deal with our neighbors, the better off we are. I like the idea of trade, I like the idea of free travel and friendship. When that happens, you’re less likely to fight. But that doesn’t mean anyone can come in and get easy citizenship.

My biggest argument is different than those who want to shoot anyone crossing the border. When you subsidize things, you get more of it, and we subsidize immigration. We need to stop that. I want to deny the benefits that draw people here. If we had a healthier economy, we could have a generous work program but we don’t need it.

From the Numbers USA’s review of Dr. Paul’s new book:

In his book, Dr. Paul sounds very much like supporters of Comprehensive Amnesty measures by talking about the impossibility of sending back home 11 million illegal aliens. Like most amnesty supporters who say they oppose “amnesty,” Dr. Paul seems to buy the false choice between “legalization” or mass deportation. Since he says mass deportation isn’t possible, he feels he has to choose some kind of legalization.

He fails to support Attrition Through Enforcement, which is the middle way supported by most anti-amnesty Members of Congress.

He would limit the legalization by perhaps not allowing the illegal aliens to ever be citizens or to vote. But they still would get to stay in the U.S. and to keep their U.S. jobs, while millions of Americans who want the jobs would have to stay unemployed.

“It could be argued that (this system) may well allow some immigrants who come here illegally a beneficial status without automatic citizenship or tax-supported benefits — a much better option than deportation,” Rep. Paul writes on page 156.

I completely disagree with this statement. Deportation is absolutely the only option for illegal immigrants. While removing the temptations of automatic citizenship and the elimination of tax-supported benefits are definitely to be preferred to the present system, the political history of American immigration clearly shows that any such technical measures will be rapidly overturned, or as is more likely the case, declared to be unconstitutional and invalid by an immigration-friendly judge.

It seems politicians never learn that tweaks and fine-tuning are totally irrelevant when it comes to the art of governance. It’s like attempting to drive a semi on a particularly convoluted rally course. However, I think it is a bit harsh to give Paul an F for a position that is better than a) the status quo, b) the other Republican candidates, and c) the Democratic candidate. I’d make it at least a D.

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