Republicans need to move “beyond deportation” in order to make inroads with Latino voters and focus on issues such as the economy and jobs, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday.
“The bottom line is the Hispanic community, the Latino community, is not going to care until we get beyond this issue,” he said.
Speaking before a symposium on conservatives and Latino media Tuesday morning, Paul said "showing up" helps, but Republicans need to take a different tack and start "saying something that's different from what we've been saying."
Paul said the Republican party in general has issues connecting with minority groups and that Republicans have to "get through the wall" that separates them from the constituencies where he believes Republicans can make big inroads.
“I think what’s happened is there’s not the perception of empathy coming from the Republican party," Paul said, "that we care about where they’re coming from and we care about what their problems are.”
Paul said there is still time to pass immigration reform in Congress this year if parties compromise and “meet in the middle.” He said he believes Republicans and Democrats can agree on certain parts of the immigration bill, including the expansion of work and high-tech visas. He chided Democrats and the media, saying they have created the perception that one must be either for or against what is currently proposed on immigration reform and have been ignoring the shades of gray on the issue.
"I think there could still be something done this year," Paul said. "I think there is an openness even now" to passing something.
Paul said he believes if Republicans take over Congress they will be more likely to pass an immigration reform bill, but at the moment both sides should work on the majority of things they agree on rather than fight over the parts where they do not see eye to eye.
Paul voted against an immigration bill last year. On Tuesday, he said his rejected the bill because there was a provision that made it illegal for people in the immigration process to switch jobs.