- Associated Press - Friday, November 21, 2014

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) - With an eye toward 2016, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul sought to find a balance Friday between opposing President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration and his efforts to grow the Republican party’s base with minority groups.

Obama announced Thursday that he would be delaying the deportation of up to 5 million people who are in the country illegally. Most of those are people who have been in the country illegally for more than five years but have had children born in the United States, and thus are U.S. citizens.

Paul, like most Senate Republicans, has opposed Obama’s orders. But Paul said Friday his opposition is about a president abusing his power, not about immigration reform.

If Obama “decided to unilaterally lower taxes. I’d be saying the same thing,” Paul told reporters after a speech to law students at Northern Kentucky University. “People understand what the issue is and the issue isn’t really so much the subject as it is whether the president can create law.”

Paul has made a point of trying to grow the Republican base. In a highly publicized speech to the National Urban League earlier this year, he advocated for restoring the voting rights of some convicted felons and eliminating the sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine. The ideas are part of a series of bills Paul has introduced designed to correct the racial imbalance in the country’s judicial system.

Opposing Obama’s sweeping immigration reform could put Paul at odds with the nation’s growing Hispanic community, no matter how he phrases his positions. But Paul predicted once Republicans formally take control of the U.S. Senate in January, giving them control of both legislative bodies on Capitol Hill, an immigration reform bill would make it to Obama’s desk.

“As we pass immigration reform, people will finally look and say, ‘Democrats promised us the moon and gave us nothing,’” Paul said.

Paul said a Republican-backed immigration reform bill would likely focus on expanding the visa program for people with advanced degrees who can come and work in the country’s growing technology industry.

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