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Fact Check: Rand Paul is NOT in Favor of Restricting Muslim Immigration

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Breitbart Article Headline Misconstrues Rand Paul’s Position

by Josh Guckert

On Friday, Breitbart published an article entitledRand Paul: Restrict Immigration from Muslim Nations.” The supposed statement appropriately received scrutiny from the libertarian crowd, as it suggested that Paul was proposing limiting immigration from all Muslim countries purely for the sake of their being Muslim.

However, upon further inspection, the article’s headline is no more than a case of sloppy journalism and oversimplification of Paul’s position statement.

Said Paul: “I’m very concerned about immigration to this country from countries that have hotbeds of jihadism and hotbeds of this Islamism. There was a program in place that Bush had put in place—it stood for entry-exit program from about 25 different countries with a lot of Islamic radicals, frankly. I think there does need to be heightened scrutiny.”

Paul went on to reiterate, “I’m for increasing scrutiny on people who come on student visas from the 25 countries that have significant jihadism.”

In other words, Paul is not in favor of “restricting” immigration from “Muslim countries”; he is in favor of heightening the level of scrutiny involved with those countries which have significant levels of Islamic radicalism.

Even the use of the term “restrict” is questionable, as Paul does not seem intent upon creating some quota of entrants or in any other way preventing immigration in a blanket manner. He only wishes to be extra cautious so that the country does not inadvertently allow immigrants with connections to jihadism across the border without some kind of further inspection.

And while it is true that nearly all countries which contain the elements to which Paul is referring are indeed predominantly Muslim, there is a significant difference in identifying those countries which have had a history of jihadism within their borders. Peaceful Muslim countries which have been able to contain their extremist elements will not be affected.

These proposed actions are certainly not novel, and in fact, a similar bill was proposed by Ron Paul in 2003. Entitled the Terror Immigration Elimination Act of 2003, the elder Paul’s proposal was created “to limit the issuance of student and diversity immigrant visas to aliens who are nationals of Saudi Arabia, countries that support terrorism, or countries not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts.”

While merely the fact that Congressman Paul supported the same position does not vindicate Senator Paul, it is well-known within the liberty movement that Congressman Paul was one of the most principled defenders of liberty in the history of the country. His “no” votes were plentiful, so any endorsements on particular policy propositions carry a significant amount of weight.

More generally speaking, this is yet another example of an out-of-control news media attempting to boil down complex issues into a few words, and in the process, diluting and mis-characterizing the message. Even if not done on purpose, the most benevolent intentions can result in unforeseeable consequences.

As the campaign continues onward, lovers of liberty must be particularly skeptical of any headlines and articles, especially those concerning Senator Paul. Paul has made enemies on both the left and right for his unconventional approach to so many issues, thus making it even more difficult to identify friend and foe.

Senator Paul is a threat to the status quo of American politics. For that reason, so many would love nothing more than to be able to report that his campaign is failing or that he has changed his principles. But we mustn’t allow the enemies of liberty to prosper as we engage in civil war.

No libertarian is going to agree with Rand Paul on all of the issues. However, he is by far the best hope for liberty in generations. We must therefore ensure that any news coverage he receives is both true and forthright.

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