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With "Friends" Like Paul Ryan, Does Immigration Reform Need Enemies? By Roger Algase

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The latest entry in the immigration-reform-is-not-completely-dead straw grasping sweepstakes (which I will name the non omnis moriar - "I will not wholly die" contest - using the words of the great Latin poet, Horace, 65 BC-8 BC), is the notion that Paul R. (Ryan, not Revere) is about to ride to the rescue of immigration reform, giving John Boehner the political clout that he needs to push reform through. According to this theory, Boehner really wants reform but lacks the muscle to get it through the House on his own. Therefore, Ryan will help him save reform.

This scenario is set forth in December 17 article by Patricia Murphy in the Daily Beast. See: With Trouble at Home, Boehner Fights the Right.


The Daily Beast describes the optimism of pro-reform advocate Frank Sharry of America's Voice over Ryan's hoped-for involvement on the side of reform as follows:

"But Sharry pointed to another factor that gives him even more confidence: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Boehner's secret sauce on the budget deal who could be just as valuable on an immigration reform package, which Ryan worked for months on to negotiate behind the scenes before talks broke down over the summer.

'If it were just up to John Boehner, I'd be worried', Sharry said. 'It's Paul Ryan's involvement that gives me hope.'"

In order to see what kind of 'hope' reformers like Sharry might be talking about and whether it is justified, it would be instructive to look at what Ryan is actually saying about immigration reform. As it turns out, Ryan's latest pronouncement on this issue was reported only one day earlier, by Sahil Kapur writing in TPM.

See: Paul Ryan On Immigration: No Amnesty (December 16).

(Sorry, I do not have a link. Google will help to access it.)

If the above title doesn't sound terribly auspicious about Ryan's supposed support for reform, it is because the body of the article provides little reason for optimism on this score either. It states:

"Speaking to 620WTMJ radio's Charles Sykes, Ryan described his principles for reform as: 'Guaranteed border security, guaranteed interior enforcement, no amnesty.'" (Emphasis added.)

Kapur's article goes on to quote Ryan as follows:

"First we must have the border security, and independently verified. First we must have the interior enforcement like E-Verify in place and independently verified before the other parts of the law that they want to go into place go into place...So it's not a 'trust, hope and promise'. It's a 'get what we want, verify it's there, then the rest of the law can be triggered'".

If this differs in any way from the "enforcement first", or "enforcement only" approach to immigration that the GOP has been pushing for at least the past two decades, Ryan has not provided any explanation of how it differs.

Nor is it very reassuring that, in the same Kapur article, Ryan is quoted as referring to the current system as "chain migration", an openly racist term referring to family green card sponsorship, mainly by immigrants from Latin America.

If one wanted to be cynical, one could even suggest that any politician who wants to reduce levels of family-based immigration from Latin America or anywhere else would have a good reason to support the Senate-passed CIR bill, S. 744, which lowers the available numbers of family-sponsored green cards.

The Senate bill also throws tens of thousands of potential immigrants from Africa each year under the bus, by eliminating the diversity green card lottery.

It is true that Paul Ryan has made some more immigration-reform friendly comments in the recent past. Perhaps he too, like so many other Republicans, is backing away from reform out of fear of a possible Tea Party primary challenge.

To use words attributed to an even more famous ancient Roman than Horace (though there is no evidence I know of that he ever actually said them): "Et tu, Paul?"

Based on his comments as quoted in the above Sahil Kapur article, with a "friend" like Paul Ryan, immigration reform does not need any enemies.

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Updated 12-19-2013 at 08:36 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. federale86's Avatar
    Of course, everything is racist. If the immigrants are Irish, is chain migration still racist?
  2. federale86's Avatar
    I guess then the Senate bill supported by Democrats is racist as well because it supposedly, but not actually, reduces chain migration? I guess it is like Alex Baldwin, he can use anti-gay slurs and not be labeld a bigot by GLAAD. The Treason Bar is filled with hypocrites.
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    When Paul Ryan talks about "chain immigration", I tend to doubt that he means Irish immigration.

    There are, however, some 70,000 Irish immigrants in America without legal status, according to the latest figures that I recall seeing. Irish-American organizations are supporting immigration reform too - not only Latinos and Asians.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
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