Santorum: ‘Room for Engagement’ on Immigration

Former senator Rick Santorum tells National Review Online he sees “room for engagement” on immigration reform, an issue that continues to spark division within the Republican party.

“A lot of things have changed,” since Congress’s last (unsuccessful) attempt at immigration reform under President George W. Bush, he says in an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “We don’t see the amount of illegal immigrants coming into this country.”

Part of it is because we’ve done a better job, over the years, of controlling the border, although still not nearly as well as we should.” Lower birth rates, and a growing economy in Mexico have also played a role in slowing the tide of illegal immigration, he argues.

As a result, the risk of immigration reform’s “triggering another wave” of illegal immigrants is “probably less of a concern now,” and could create an opportunity for “solving, in some way, the immigration issue, in a way that leads to at least some people being able to stay in this country, for at least some period of time, legally.”

“We have a lot of very good and decent people, who really didn’t do anything wrong, a lot of them were kids, and things like that,” he says. “I think that’s where Republicans are beginning to engage, and I think there is probably room for engagement.”

However, Santorum stresses that any potential effort to reform the immigration system must do so in a manner that doesn’t “completely abandon the rule of law.”

“I think we just have to take, if we can, a sort of reasoned, measured approach to this, and look at how we can do so without greatly advantaging people who did not respect the law over those who did,” he says.

Andrew Stiles — Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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