Senate passes immigration reform bill

Sen. Rand Paul reacts to the vote


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Just happened, the Senate just voting to pass the immigration bill. The vote was 68-32, all Democrats and 14 Republicans voted in favor of it.

My next guest was not one of them, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul.

Senator, you voted no. I want to know what your main objections were to this bill.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Well, you know, I have been in favor of it and still am in favor of immigration reform.

I just think that immigration reform should be dependent on border security first. So, I had an amendment that said, well, hey, guys, let's secure the border and have Congress vote on whether the border is secure before we go forward. And my amendment failed. They chose to go another route.

And I just couldn't go along with it because I'm fearful that this won't fix illegal immigration, that we still will have significant illegal immigration with this bill.

VARNEY: Now, there's $40 billion extra for border security, going to hire 20,000 extra agents and buy a lot of high-tech surveillance equipment. You're saying that's not good enough? You wanted more security or a different way of certifying that the border was closed?

PAUL: Two things.

I wanted Congress to certify that the border was secure, and to do that before we allowed legalization, because I think that would have that ensured we would do our job and that the government would secure the border.

But the second thing is equally as important. I thought we had to have plenty of work visas, because, right now, about 400,000 people come in to pick crops, but only 65,000 of them use the work visa program. This bill is actually going to place new limits on ag worker visas. And if you place limits below what the market dictates it wants for labor, then you will still have illegal immigration. This bill makes the mistake of actually setting limits on ag worker visas that are too low.

VARNEY: Do you think that this bill could be fixed in the House to your satisfaction and pass the House?

PAUL: Maybe.

I'm pushing hard with a lot of conservatives in the House to include congressional votes saying the border is secure. This to me is more important than even the number of Border Patrol agents, is that Congress votes and we don't leave it up to the president. The problem is, is the current bill in the Senate allows the president to veto the fence, and all these other things that were added in can be vetoed by president. I want Congress to make the decision.

See, the president says the border is secure currently. So, that's why I have a little bit of mistrust over the president making this decision. I think Congress should make the decision. That, to me, is an important distinction.

VARNEY: Here is what critics are saying. If you take this tough stance on this bill and the bill that comes up in the House, you will lose the Hispanic vote. What's your answer to that one, sir?

PAUL: Well, you know, I think that we need to treat people with dignity.

I think that I want to find a place for those who are not documented in our country. I am all for finding a place for people who have immigrated to this country, finding a place to legitimately have them in our society. But I don't think that means I have to be for one particular bill.

This is a bill led by Democrats. There will be a bill proposed for immigration reform led by Republicans. And I'm hoping that's something I can get behind.

VARNEY: Do you think the two sides, the Senate and the House version, whatever it is, can get together in conference and come up with a bill that would satisfy you?

PAUL: Well, it depends on which bill we're talking about.

If we are talking about the bill that is based on a House bill, I think there is room for agreement. But it's whether or not the Democrats are going to push the envelope so much that they are going to grasp for something that turns off all the Republicans and a lot of grassroots America. If it means expanding the work visa program and documenting workers here and securing the border at the same time, I think a lot of us can support that.

VARNEY: What about Senator Rubio, who voted yes on this? What do you make of that vote yes?

PAUL: You know, I think he's well-intentioned and I think he's trying to do the right thing. And so I don't impute to him ill motives. I think his motives are genuine. He wants to do what a lot of us want to do, and that's fix the illegal immigration problem. I disagree with the final bill. But I think good people can honestly have disagreements.

VARNEY: Has the Republican Party been split on this issue?

PAUL: Well, we are on different sides.

Most Republicans would like to see border security first. We are interested in more workers in our country. And we are a little bit hesitant as to how quickly these workers become voters. We think you need to become part of America and learn English and become assimilated.

And we are not against people becoming immigrants, becoming citizens. But we really want to expand the workers here and find a place for the workers who are here and bring them out of the shadows.

VARNEY: One issue to me, personally -- I'm an immigrant, obviously -- I was surprised that this bill contains such a long period of time before someone who is now here illegally could become fully legalized, so to speak. I mean, it's more than a decade. I was surprised at that length of time. That seems particularly tough to me.

PAUL: I think some of it's more than a decade and some of it's less. If you are an immigrant here on an agricultural visa, it's about five years, plus three years, is my understanding of the bill. The other problem though is that when we are talking about legalizing these folks and the route to it, to me, it's not so much the period of time as the appearance that it needs to be fair. And there is some question about whether setting up a new pathway is fair vs. trying to work people into an existing pathway that's already in the law.

VARNEY: Senator John McCain -- more on this possible split in the Republican Party, Senator John McCain says it doesn't give the president too much power. You say it does. There is a split here.


PAUL: Yes.

Well, I disagree. I think that all of the power is given to the president to decide when the border is secure, because there will be no future congressional votes. Under this Senate package, there will be no congressional votes on whether the border is secure. This is the opposite of what conservatives want. Conservatives, myself included, would like Congress to vote again, saying the border is secure before the process moves forward.

VARNEY: Can I switch to the IRS? On the other side of Capitol Hill, more hearings today, more fireworks, but still nobody fired ,two IRS people pleading the Fifth. Doesn't seem like we are getting anywhere and getting to the bottom of the scandal.

PAUL: Well, I'm concerned that it's not only just two or three agents or four agents. I'm concerned that it could be a culture over there.

The IRS workers union gave a million dollars to Democrats over the last two cycles. My concern is, if you are a Republican or a conservative, can you get a fair shake from a group of workers that are giving all their money to one party, and don't seem to be much in favor of giving Republicans or conservatives a fair shake? How do you get a fair shake when all of the employee unions are giving their money to Democrats?

VARNEY: Do you think the government machinery was used against the president's political opponents last year?

PAUL: Yes, I think there is evidence. There are several people who have come forward and had not only the IRS, but the FBI, but OSHA and all of these audits moving forward. And I think there is a great deal of evidence that the bully apparatus of government is being used against political opponents.

VARNEY: Senator Rand Paul, we appreciate you being with us today on this historic day for the vote in the Senate on immigration.

Thank you, sir.

PAUL: Thank you.

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