In a new interview with Politico, Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul indicates he is going to seek to take a leadership role in finding a solution to the Immigration problem facing the nation. Paul appears ready to offer a compromise that would allow those here illegally to stay and have a pathway to citizenship in exchange for not accepting “any new legal immigrants while we’re assimilating the ones who are here.” Paul also says he wants to work with Democrats to reduce the penalties for possession and use of marijuana:

POLITICO: . . . . Paul plans to inject himself into the middle of the GOP’s emotional immigration debate in the wake of Romney losing swing states with heavy Latino populations like Florida, Colorado and Nevada. Paul is working on a novel plan that he says would “assimilate” many of the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. Those individuals, he said, could apply for legal status, but immigration would then be clamped down in the interim. He also says his plan would toughen security at the border.

“I want to show what conservatives would or can accept,” he said in describing his plan. “If we assimilate those who are here, however they got here — don’t make it an easy path for citizenship. There would be an eventual path, but we don’t make anybody tomorrow a citizen who came here illegally. But if they’re willing to work, willing to pay taxes, I think we need to normalize those who are here.”

Paul said the “trade-off” would be “not to accept any new legal immigrants while we’re assimilating the ones who are here.” Asked if he is concerned about the ripple effect that could cause around the world, Paul said the details over which countries would be affected are still in the works.

But it’s clear Paul wants to have a voice in the roiling debate, even as other prospective 2016 GOP players, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, plan to assert their views when Congress takes up immigration reform next year.

“I think I might have the ability to get out in front of this issue,” Paul said when asked if he believed conservatives would cry “amnesty” over such a plan. “I think I might have the ability because nobody really questions — at least not so far — whether I’m conservative enough.”

This week, Paul also plans to re-engage with Leahy and others about his stance on marijuana, saying it makes little sense to have tough laws against possession that could destroy a young person’s life.

After Colorado and Washington state each approved recreational use of marijuana in ballot initiatives last week, Paul said it “wouldn’t hurt” for his party to take a softer stand on the issue, saying it would show that the GOP is a “little bit rational” and “reasonable” if penalties for pot possession were weakened.

“I don’t think we should put people in jail for mandatory sentences of nonviolent drug crimes, particularly 20-year sentences,” Paul said. “I’d just hate to see somebody’s kid get put in jail for 20 years for making a mistake.” . . . Read More

Report: GOP Sen. Rand Paul Working on Proposal to “Assimilate” Illegals in the U.S. in Exchange for Not Accepting “Any New Legal Immigrants while Assimilating the Ones who are Here” – 11/13/12

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